Iowa's athletic department announced on Friday that four sports — men's gymnastics, men's tennis, and men's and women's swimming and diving — are being eliminated at the end of this academic year.
The sports cuts come at a time of severe economic loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa athletics director Gary Barta estimated last week that, with the Big Ten's postponement of fall sports, including football, the department would lose approximately $100 million in revenue and would be operating at a loss of $60-75 million this year.
In an open letter, Barta and university president Bruce Harreld said:
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 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.
The four programs will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming seasons, if the seasons are held, before they are discontinued. All existing scholarships will be honored through graduation for those athletes who choose to remain at Iowa. The contracts of affected coaches will be honored.
Among the factors considered in this decision, according to a statement from the university, included sponsorship at the NCAA Division I level, impact on gender equity and Title IX compliance, expense savings, history of the sport at the university, and engagement level.
"We carefully and thoroughly reviewed all financial options and each of our programs individually," Barta and Harreld said in the open letter. "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."