The University of Iowa announced Friday that it will permanently cancel four sports programs amid financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement to the University of Iowa athletics community, university President Bruce Harreld and athletics director Gary Barta announced that the school would be discontinuing men’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and the men’s tennis sports programs at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.
“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,” the two wrote.
The university officials said funding cuts were necessary due to a lack of revenue caused by the cancellation of the Big Ten Conference football season.
“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,” the statement continued. “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.”
The two added that a “loss of this magnitude will take years to overcome.”
Earlier in August, the Big Ten, of which the University of Iowa is a member, canceled its fall football season due to concerns about the pandemic.
“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement at the time.
Later that week, the Pac-12 Conference called off its football season, as well. Both conferences said that their seasons could resume in the spring, though uncertainty remains as the nation continues to grapple with containing the virus.
In the statement Friday, the Iowa administrators said that they had reviewed all of the financial options of the programs individually. However, they believe that making these permanent cuts would “strengthen athletics, position our programs for future success with the resources we have.”
Iowa football brings in a large portion of the university’s athletics revenue. A loss of a single home game would set the school back roughly $3.2 million, according to Hawk Central.