University of Iowa, Women Swimmers Settle Title IX Lawsuit

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After the UI suspended swimming and diving programs last August, four female swimmers filed a Title IX lawsuit in September 2020.

Ryan Adams

Swimmers kick in the 200 backstoke during a swim meet at the CRWC on the 11th. The Hawkeye men’s team defeated the fighting Irish by 159.50 to 140.50, while the Hawkeye women’s team defeated the fighting Illinois by 223 to 86 and against the fighting Irish 99, 50 lost to 209.50.


The University of Iowa pays nearly $ 400,000 in a settlement with four women swimmers who filed a Title IX lawsuit last September.

The UI, its former president Bruce Harreld and its sporting director Gary Barta reached an agreement with the swimmers in September.

The amount includes approximately $ 307,000 in legal fees and $ 92,000 in other litigation costs.

Former Hawkeye swimmers Sage Ohlensehlen, Kelsey Drake, Christina Kaufman and Alexa Puccini filed the Title IX lawsuit against the UI after it suspended its NCAA Division I women’s swimming and diving program on August 21, 2020.

The athletes claimed that the UI Title IX was not compliant because the number of sports opportunities for women was not representative of the school’s student body.

The lawsuit found that Women made up 53.56 percent of the student body, but received only 50.77 percent of the sporting opportunities in the 2018/19 academic year.

As part of the settlement, Iowa Athletics agreed to both reintroduce women’s swimming and add women’s wrestling.

The athletics department has to keep women’s swimming for “no less than seven years,” according to the settlement.

Three other sports were originally cut off for women in addition to swimming and diving: swimming and diving for men, gymnastics and tennis. These sports were discontinued at the end of the 2020/21 school year.

Barta and men’s wrestling head coach Tom Brands held a press conference on Sept. 23 to announce the start of women’s wrestling.

Speaking at the press conference, Barta said that the UI has had plans to add women’s rings for several years, but the agreement on Title IX was a catalyst to sponsor the sport at the university level.

“Recruiting for the women’s wrestling team will begin in the 2021-22 academic year,” the settlement said. “As is typical for the start of a new NCAA sport, the first recruiting student athletes will arrive on campus in 2022-23, and the competition is expected to begin in 2023-24 once recruiting is complete.”

The settlement also states that Iowa must make “reasonable efforts” to promote women’s wrestling and persuade other Division I schools, Power Five, to include the sport on a competition schedule.

The UI also agreed to enforce a cap on the women’s rowing team.

In the original lawsuit, the Iowa Rowing Program was alleged to have placed female athletes on its roster to help Iowa Athletics meet Title IX. Hawkeye Rowing had 89 student-athletes on the list in 2014, while the NCAA Division I average was 64.

Iowa Athletics will maintain a three-year moving average of 75 athletes on the women’s rowing team under the Settlement Agreement.

Finally, Gabriel Feldman, Professor of Sports Law at Tulane University, will oversee compliance with Title IX of the UI from the 2021-22 academic year through 2023-24.

As part of the settlement, Feldman will annually review compliance with Title IX of the UI in Athletics in all three aspects: equal opportunities to participate, equal benefits and treatment, and equal scholarship opportunities.

The agreement states that Feldman will publish an annual report on the three aspects and will provide input on any deficiencies in Title IX. The Iowa Athletics Department will publish the annual report and post the results no later than October 1 of each year on hawkeyesports.com.

Feldman’s first report will be released on October 1, 2022.


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