Backers pledge $1.65M in push to save Iowa sports programs
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Supporters lobbying to reinstate four recently-eliminated University of Iowa sports programs say they have obtained $1.65 million and counting in pledges if the school decides to keep them going.
Save Iowa Sports, a group that includes hundreds of athletes, alumni and donors, said in a letter to Iowa President Bruce Harreld that the pledges have come together in a few days and are “just the beginning” of its fundraising campaign.
The university last month moved to abruptly eliminate men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics.
Athletic director Gary Barta said the cuts were “100% driven by” the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the postponement of football for safety reasons and tens of millions in lost revenue.
But current athletes and supporters of those programs say they were blindsided by the decision, and have been working to get the university to reconsider. So far, Barta and Harreld have refused.
Athletico Physical Therapy founder Mark Kaufman said Tuesday he hoped that pledges by him and others could allow for the sports to be reinstated while supporters develop a long-term plan to make them sustainable. Kaufman is an Iowa alum and longtime booster whose daughter is on the swimming team.