Iowa will cut four programs
By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
The University of Iowa will drop four sports programs as part of the athletic department’s response to a projected loss of $100 million in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
School president Bruce Harreld and athletic director Gary Barta said Friday that men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis and men’s and women’s swimming and diving will be discontinued after the 2020-21 academic year.
A pair of local athletes will be affected by the changes. Fort Dodge Senior High graduates Andrew Fierke and Taylor Hartley — both juniors — are members of the men’s and women’s swimming programs, respectively. Fierke is a part of the Hawkeyes’ school record quartet in the 800 freestyle relay, and Hartley is an academic all-Big Ten selection.
Barta said the Big Ten’s decision to postpone football and other fall sports until the spring will create an overall budget deficit between $60 million and $75 million this year.
“A loss of this magnitude will take years to overcome. We have a plan to recover, but the journey will be challenging,” Harreld and Barta said.
Iowa is the second school in a Power Five conference to drop sports. Stanford announced last month that it would eliminate 11 sports. More than 200 sports programs have been cut across the NCAA’s three divisions and NAIA since March. The total is 73 in Division I and includes 11 men’s tennis teams.
Athletic departments across the country are facing financial hardships because of the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and shortened or canceled football seasons. The Big Ten and Pac-12 aren’t playing football this fall, and teams in the three other Power Five conferences are planning to play fewer games.
Iowa said its four programs targeted for elimination will compete in 2020-21 if circumstances surrounding COVID-19 permit. Existing scholarships will be honored through graduation for athletes who remain at Iowa. The contracts of affected coaches will be honored.
Among factors considered for which sports to cut were number of schools sponsoring teams at the Division I level, impact on gender equity and Title IX compliance, expense savings, history of the sport at Iowa and engagement level.
The school said it would not consider seeking private funds to sustain the sports.
The university announced budget cuts in July, including an initial $15 million reduction for athletics through pay cuts and furloughs.