Former Iowa men’s gymnasts turned judges reflect on program cuts

Dan Bachman and Randy Gentile have stayed in the sport after competing on the team and want to save Iowa men’s gymnastics.


Tate Hildyard

The Hawkeyes huddle together after a Men’s gymnastics meet against The University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Hawkeyes won with a final team score of 400.00.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

It has been over 30 years since these men’s gymnasts competed at Iowa, but they are still involved with the sport and care about the soon-to-be discontinued program.

Dan Bachman and Randy Gentile helped Iowa win the Big Ten Championship together in 1986, and Bachman, a three-time All-American, won seven individual Big Ten Championships. Bachman was on the team from 1982-86, while Gentile was there from 1984-88.

Bachman is now a financial advisor at Guide Financial Group in Urbandale, Iowa, and Gentile is a regional manager for the logistics company, Expeditors, in Bensenville, Illinois.

Additionally, the pair also judge boy’s and men’s gymnastics. Bachman started after then Iowa head coach Tom Dunn and assistant coach Mike Burns said he needed to stay involved in the sport. For 31 years, Bachman’s judged anyone from age five to world-class athletes at the Olympic Trials, and he said they are all fun.

“In all, no matter what you’re competing in, it’s challenging, it pushes your abilities,” Bachman said. “What I love about gymnastics is its strength, flexibility, coordination, and you’re working as an individual, working as a team, and you have your highs and your lows. And through that it builds your character and makes you who you are.”

Bachman is slated to judge the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo next year, which will be his first Olympic games.

Gentile has judged Illinois High School Association boy’s gymnastics for 29 years and has been a certified NCAA judge the past seven. Him participating in the sport at Iowa had an influence over his career, and Gentile said it gave him the discipline to forge ahead and pay attention to detail.

RELATED: Former Iowa men’s gymnastics head coach Tom Dunn reacts to program’s discontinuation

“I think it’s really helped me be successful in the career I’ve chosen outside of gymnastics because I am competing against quite a few other companies where we do global transportation,” Gentile said. “Like anything else, there’s quite a few competitors in the world.”

Similar to his closest teammates, Gentile was shocked when he found out Iowa was discontinuing men’s gymnastics along with three other sports at the varsity level after this academic year via email. Bachman found out from former Iowa men’s gymnast Lance Alberhasky, who also judges.

“It’s just confusion,” Bachman said. “Why? Is there anything we can do to save this? To me, it’s frustrating they’re not trying to look at it from every angle. Are there ways we can keep this? I mean football’s back on, but lay all the options on the table, lay it out there, and say ‘Here’s collectively what can Iowa do.’”

Both Bachman and Gentile remember the athletic director from their time at Iowa, Bump Elliott, being very supportive of the program, coming to their meets, and emphasizing the student-athlete experience. Bachman said the next athletic director, Bob Bowlsby, said Iowa would be the last men’s gymnastics program in the country to be discontinued.

Current athletic director Gary Barta didn’t hold Bowlsby’s word, however, because there will be 12 NCAA men’s gymnastics programs after this academic year.

“You hate to see a collegiate sport go by the wayside all in the name of the bottom line,” Gentile said. “The almighty dollar. I admit I get it, it’s a non-revenue-producing sport, but I mean it is what it is. You want to have a college experience and have student-athletes and that’s the fun of it. I think you probably get the gist of where my head’s at. I’m just disheartened over the whole thing and hope that we can rally and help support that the decision gets reversed.”

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