Iowa Athletics is in compliance with Title IX, per independent reviewer

Gabriel Feldman, a sports law professor at Tulane, conducted a site visit on Aug. 22 and released his findings on Oct. 1.


Isabella Cervantes

The Iowa Spirit Squads and Iowa Gymnastics training facility in the Field House is seen on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

An independent reviewer has determined that Iowa Athletics is in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Gabriel Feldman, a sports law professor at Tulane University in Louisiana, visited the University of Iowa to assess its athletics facilities and programs on Aug. 22.

Feldman released a report detailing his findings on Oct. 1 to adhere to rules set by a September 2021 settlement. The deal is a product of legal action taken by four former UI women’s swimmers: Sage Ohlensehlen, Alexa Puccini, Christina Kaufman, and Kelsey Drake.

The four swimmers filed a Title IX complaint against the UI in September 2020. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta and former UI President Bruce Harreld announced the discontinuation of women’s swimming on Aug. 11, 2020.

In an out-of-court settlement of the dispute, Iowa Athletics agreed to pay the swimmers $400,000 to cover attorneys’ fees and other costs related to the litigation. Iowa’s Sept. 23, 2021, addition of women’s wrestling was also part of the agreement.

Feldman will release a report on Iowa Athletics’ compliance with federal gender equity rules for the next two years. His first report found no material issues with the opportunities Iowa Athletics provided its female athletes to compete and practice. Feldman added that there weren’t any disparities in coaching opportunities, quality of coaching, access to strength and conditioning programs, insurance coverage, and medical care.

The only major inequity Feldman reported pertained to Iowa’s gymnastics facility in the Field House.

“Currently, the women’s gymnastics facility — which was shared with the men’s gymnastics team until it was recently eliminated — is not on par with the impressive facilities used by most of the other UI teams,” Feldman wrote. “The existing facility has limited gym space, inadequate locker room and restroom facilities, limited facilities for strength and conditioning or training and recovery on-site, and limited temperature and humidity controls.”

The UI is planning to construct a new gymnastics facility that could cost up to $9 million. The proposed 30,000-square-foot facility would be located near the Iowa Soccer Complex, Grant Field, the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex, and the UI Athletics Hall of Fame. The project will be completely funded by gifts to the UI’s athletic department.

Title IX requires public schools’ athletic opportunities reflect their student bodies. The UI’s total enrollment was 56 percent female in 2021. Fifty-two percent of Iowa’s athletic opportunities were afforded to women last year.

Feldman reported that 52 percent of the UI’s active student-athletes are women. He added that 53 percent of the $11.3 million in aid Iowa provided its student-athletes went to women.

Feldman’s next equity report will be released no later than Oct. 1, 2023, as required by the settlement.