A pledge campaign has been launched in an effort to save the University of Iowa’s men’s and women’s swimming teams after it was announced that they would be cut at the end of the 2020-21 season.
The pledge, which can be found here, also offers an option to donate to the men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis programs, which are also being cut.
The initiative was organized by a group of over 500 alumni and friends of the Hawkeye swimming & diving program. If the program was to get reinstated, the donors who have pledged will help support the teams.
“Iowa swimming to me is more than a sport, it’s my family and it’s the most culturally rich sport at all of Iowa,” Ryan Purdy, a Hawkeye sophomore and captain of the men’s team, told SwimSwam. “We created the butterfly, we have one of the nicest pools in the country that will sit empty of top tier athletes. They’re ending a team who shined at the B1G championships this year, jumping to 6th place in just one year.
“They’re ending the dreams of the kids that grow up around the country that want to swim at Iowa. This team also showed me what it was like to have coaches and teammates who sacrifice everything for one another and that’s the biggest thing I’ll cherish from my experience here. My journey here isn’t done as I fight to save this program and I’ll stop at nothing to do that. I came here to live out my dream of being a Hawkeye and I want to do everything I can to fulfill that dream.”
There has also “been talk” that a donor offered a multi-million dollar check and the school still wasn’t interested in reversing its decision on cutting the program, though that is unconfirmed.
It was also announced on September 16 that the Big Ten would be resuming football on October 24. One of the main reasons for cutting swimming & diving, tennis and gymnastics was due to lost revenue from having no football this season.
“They are still saying that there’s a large financial deficit and they aren’t willing to have any talks about reinstatement,” said Purdy.
In a press conference on August 24, Iowa’s Athletic Director Gary Barta said that cutting the four programs was “one hundred percent determined and driven by COVID-19”.
“The financial fallout (from) COVID-19 led to the postponement, cancellation of fall football,” Barta continued. “Were it not for that we would not have been dropping those four sports.”
Purdy also said that the team has a sworn affidavit from the Board of Regents that states that they met with the president of the university on July 31st and August 4th to discuss the cutting of four unmanned sorts.
“Their timeline doesn’t add up as football wasn’t canceled at the time because on August 5th the B1G released their 10 game schedule,” he said. “As you can see there are clearly many flaws in their decision and blatant inconsistencies in their public comments.”
As of Tuesday, the pledge campaign had raised $1.7 million.