By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa women’s swimming and diving members filed a Title IX complaint against the University of Iowa on Friday.
The complaint states that Iowa’s decision to cut the program violates the 1972 gender equity law protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Team members Sage Ohlensehlen, Christina Kaufman, Alexa Puccini and Kelsey Drake are asking a federal judge to reinstate the program, as well as requesting class-action status for female undergraduates.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta and university president Bruce Harreld announced Aug. 21 that the university planned to eliminate men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics.
“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,” Barta and Harreld said in an Aug. 21 statement. “With the Big Ten Conference’s postponement of fall competition on August 11, UI Athletics now projects lost revenue of approximately $100M and an overall deficit between $60-75M 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.”
According to the Aug. 21 press release, all four sports will have the opportunity to compete during the 2020-21 academic year, all existing scholarships will be honored through graduation and all coach contracts of affected coaches will be honored.
At the time of the announcement, the athletic program was projecting a $75 million deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But with Big Ten football season set to get underway in October, Barta said during the Iowa Board of Regents meeting that he estimates a $40-60 million deficit and that the decision to eliminate the four sports is still final.
Parents, athletes and supporters of the four cut sports recently began fundraising efforts that have netted about $1.7 million.
Former Iowa swimmer Vickie Nauman joined the HawkFanatic podcast Friday to discuss the fundraising efforts.