Rick Hartzell, director of athletics, (319) 273-2470
Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Effective immediately, the University of Northern Iowa will reinstate its women's swimming and diving and women's tennis intercollegiate athletic programs. In May, the programs were dropped, along with men's swimming and diving and men's tennis, due to budget constraints.
The Washington, D.C.-based Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, on behalf of UNI women athletes, had indicated an intent to file a lawsuit, contending the university was out of compliance with Title IX, legislation that bans sex discrimination in schools. After extended conversations with George Carroll, the Iowa assistant attorney general assigned to the regents' universities, it was recommended that UNI reinstate the two women's programs.
'We are caught between Iowa's expenditure reductions and the national drive to increase intercollegiate athletic opportunities for women,' said Rick Hartzell, UNI director of athletics. 'When we cut the programs, we were making the best decision we could at that time given the seriousness of our budget situation. We dropped both the men's and women's programs in these two sports to make every effort to be equitable. The action we are taking now is in the best interests of gender equity. We will focus on re-establishing these programs.'
'Financial pressure still exists,' said UNI president, Robert Koob. 'We still have a budget problem in athletics. It's imperative that all associated with our athletic programs continue to work diligently to raise needed funds for endowing scholarship opportunities for our student-athletes and other operational support.'
Hartzell echoed Koob's concerns, noting that Iowa's economy, rising tuition costs and other factors contribute to the financial pressure.
The reinstatement was proposed by the assistant attorney general and supported by Koob and Tom Schellhardt, UNI vice president for administration and finance.
Hartzell said both programs will have the same level of funding and support they did before the May announcement.
The cost to reinstate the programs will be approximately $150,000, depending on the cost of scholarships. The university is still making decisions about how best to compensate for the budget shortfall.
Swim coach Danny May will be offered the head women's swimming coaching position that he previously held, and a search will be conducted to fill the vacant women's tennis coaching position. There were eight women on the 2001-2002 tennis roster, and 20 on the swimming roster.