IOWA CITY, Iowa – The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a financial exigency which threatens our continued ability to adequately support 24 intercollegiate athletics programs at the desired championship level. With the Big Ten Conference’s postponement of fall competition on Aug. 11, University of Iowa Athletics now projects lost revenue of approximately $100 million and an overall deficit between $60-75 million this fiscal year. A loss of this magnitude will take years to overcome. We have a plan to recover, but the journey will be challenging.
In that context, we are writing today with some extremely difficult news. In consultation with the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, we have made the decision to discontinue four of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year: men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis. 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.
We are heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We also understand how disappointing this is for our letterwinners, alumni, donors and community members who have helped build these programs.
We are committed to support and care for the impacted student-athletes, coaches and staff throughout the transition period. All existing scholarships will be honored through graduation for those student-athletes who choose to remain at Iowa. If a student-athlete wishes to transfer to another institution, we will assist them in every way possible. In addition, we will continue to provide academic and mental health support as requested. The contracts of affected coaches will be honored.
We have been open and transparent with staff regarding our financial challenges and those facing intercollegiate athletic departments across the country.
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. 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.
Over the past few months, several budget cuts including reductions in compensation, operations and position eliminations have been, and continue to be, implemented. 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 University of Iowa 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.
Bruce Harreld, President
Gary Barta, Director of Athletics