Save Iowa Sports fundraising campaign hits $1.65 million in pledges

In addition to the release of the $1.65 million pledge figure, the Save Iowa Sports group also penned an open letter to University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Mark Kaufman speaks at the save swim meeting outside the IMU on Aug. 29, 2020. He is an alumni and was a student athletic trainer at the University of Iowa.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

In just under 24 hours, $1.65 million has been pledged to the Save Iowa Sports group. The group launched the pledge-based fundraising campaign Monday afternoon as part of a larger effort to revive Hawkeye men’s and women’s swim and dive, men’s tennis, and men’s gymnastics – all of which will be discontinued at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, barring something unforeseen.

The $1.65 million figure was first reported by the Associated Press and confirmed to The Daily Iowan by the Save Iowa Sports group.

In addition to the dollar figure, the group released an open letter to UI President Bruce Harreld. The letter was signed by Athletico Physical Therapy Chairman Mark Kaufman, former Hawkeye football captain Matt Purdy, and former Iowa swimmers Emma Sougstad, Ron Kaminski, Vickie Nauman, and Dave Carpenter.

In the letter, the group requested a sit-down meeting with Harreld to discuss how the four discontinued sports programs could be revived at Iowa. According to the letter, Harreld has until the end of business hours on Wednesday to respond to the group’s request.

“We have heard your message about financial hardship as well as various figures thrown around in the press conferences about financial need for the Athletic Department as a reason to end these four Olympic sports,” the group wrote. “We want to engage in that conversation, but short of that we want to begin by removing the burden on the Athletic Department in order to reinstate the four sports. That’s why we have taken the effort to begin to raise the money needed. No other university with comparable heritage of intercollegiate athletics has taken such drastic measures to terminate entire programs, and more than 70 years of alumni will not stand idly by to let it happen.”

The group went on to write that the $1.65 million pledged since yesterday is “just the beginning.”

“We want to make sure that these sports are restored in the short term as we work on longer-term solutions for how to continue in perpetuity,” the group wrote. “This is what Hawkeyes do, we come together.”

In addition to the fundraising, the group is also working on a model to help the University of Iowa finance not only the four sports that are set to be discontinued, but the athletic department as a whole.

“We are talking with attorneys and financial advisors about our position and how we could legally structure an organization that could fund these sports, with the goal of creating a model that could be used by colleges and universities across the nation,” the group wrote. “After all, the butterfly stroke in swimming doesn’t have to be the only thing created by Iowa swimmers.”

“We’d rather work with you. But our eyes are wide open to a number of serious financial problems at the Athletic department and we have concerns that we hope will also be addressed as well as proactive ideas to share.”

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta has previously stated that no private funding will be accepted by the athletic department to save the sports in question. He also made it clear that Iowa football’s return this fall would not save the four discontinued sports.