Guest Opinion | Sports cuts are devastating

Following the announcement that university swimming will be discontinued after this year, a former athlete writes about the programs’ cancellation.


Katie Goodale

Swimmers compete in the 100 yard freestyle during the last session of the 2020 Women’s Big Ten Swim and Dive Championship on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Ohio State won the championships with an overall score of 1503.5.

The news this week of the cancelation of the University of Iowa swimming and diving programs has been devastating. I am not sure your administration truly understands what this means. The swimming and diving budget is just a drop in the bucket compared to football or even basketball. I’m not, however, going to go into this argument as this is for the bean counters.

This is a personal story.

In 1982 because of financial issues, my family could not afford to send me to college. Unfortunately, I did not qualify for financial assistance. If it were not for Coach Glen Patton (head swimming coach) and Coach Bob Rydze (diving coach), who signed me to dive for the University of Iowa, my life would’ve turned out quite differently.

During my college career, I did not win a NCAA championship. I did not win a Big Ten championship. I missed becoming an All-American by 1.5 points getting 17th at NCAAs my senior year. I did, however, gain years of growth, maturity, and drive molded by the coaches and the program.

Four years of medical school, three years of residency, two years of fellowship, and 25 years of practice as a gastroenterologist and I am still realizing my potential. Where would I be if I did not dive at the University of Iowa? I am not sure. However, I can’t imagine my life being any more fulfilling since the day Coach Bob Rydze traveled to Chattanooga Tennessee in the fall of 1982.

I feel sad for the young men and women who are not going to be able to realize their full potential through the University of Iowa swimming and diving programs because of what transpired this past week. Is the unrealized potential of just one member of society worth $1 million? $2 million? A year’s operating budget for a minor college sport?

I picture Irving Webber walking on the pool deck ringing his bell at the start of a meet with a sad mournful look on his face instead of his infectious grin. Yes, our hearts ache!  Ache for the emptiness that we will feel next time we visit Iowa City. And ache for the young men and women who will not get to experience their growth in these programs.

Maybe I should’ve gone into Cardiology instead of Gastroenterology just for this week. I suspect, however, no amount of medical technology will help mend our broken hearts!

—Ira Stein, President, The Frist Clinic Nashville Tennessee, University of Iowa Class of 1986

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