Iowa to discontinue four sports programs at end of 2020-21 academic year

This includes the men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis programs.


Tate Hildyard

Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta speaks at a press conference July 30.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld and athletic director Gary Barta announced in an open letter Friday that the school is discontinuing four sports programs at the end of the 2020-21 academic year following the Big Ten’s postponement of fall sports on Aug. 11. This includes the men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis programs.

“We are heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Harreld and Barta wrote in the letter. “We also understand how disappointing this is for our letterwinners, alumni, donors and community members who have helped build these programs.”

The decision to cut these programs, which the letter states was made in consultation with the state Board of Regents, is a result of the financial deficit the athletic department is facing due to COVID-19.

Following the Big Ten’s announcement that fall sports in the conference were postponed, Barta said that the athletic department is anticipating $100 million in lost revenue and an overall deficit of between $60-75 million this fiscal year.

“We carefully and thoroughly reviewed all financial options and each of our programs individually. We considered, in part, sponsorship at the NCAA Division I level, impact on gender equity and Title IX compliance, expense savings, history of the sport at Iowa, engagement level, and other factors,” the letter states. “With the recent postponement of fall sports and immediate financial impact due to this decision, we believe this path is necessary to strengthen athletics and position our programs for future success with the resources we have.”

All existing scholarships will be honored through graduation for those student-athletes who choose to remain at Iowa, according to the letter.

If a student-athlete wishes to transfer to another institution, Harreld and Barta wrote that they “will assist them in every way possible.” The contracts of affected coaches will also be honored.

Each of these teams will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming 2020-21 seasons, should the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 permit, before they are discontinued at the varsity level.

This cut drops Iowa from 24 varsity sports to 20, including 12 women’s sports and eight men’s sports.

“Over the past few months, several budget cuts including reductions in compensation, operations and position eliminations have been, and continue to be, implemented,” the letter states. “While the impact of these savings reduces our expenses, a significant deficit remains.  We are working to secure financing to cover the shortfall that provides a repayment plan that allows continued success for our remaining sports.

“The UI has faced many challenges in its history. We are confident these changes, while difficult, create a path forward for Iowa Athletics to remain self-sufficient and allow our remaining programs the opportunity for sustained excellence and fiscal stability.”

This is a developing story. Check back for more information.