Iowa to keep women's swimming and diving program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa is keeping its women's swimming and diving program after it had been among four sports the school planned to eliminate due to budget concerns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the women's swimming and diving team filed a legal complaint against the school in September, arguing that the decision to eliminate their program violated the landmark gender equity law Title IX. U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose announced in December that she would grant an injunction to stop Iowa from dropping women's swimming for the 2021-22 school year.

Iowa officials said Monday they continue to disagree with the claims in the lawsuit, but added that "in the interests of serving our student-athletes, coaches and community, the University believes more certainty will be beneficial for the future of the program."

School officials announced in August they were dropping men's and women's swimming and diving, men's gymnastics and men's tennis at the end of their 2020-21 seasons. Iowa still plans to eliminate those sports, other than women's swimming and diving.

"We remain committed to support and care for those student-athletes, honor their scholarships if they choose to remain at Iowa and provide academic, medical and mental health support as requested," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement.

At the time of the August announcement, Iowa was estimating a $75 million deficit because of the pandemic. Iowa officials have revised that estimated deficit to between $50 million and $60 million, thanks in part to the Big Ten's decision to hold a modified version of a football season.