Save Iowa Sports reports $1.6 million in pledges

(Undated) -A grass roots organization called "Save Iowa Sports" is reporting more than $1.6 million in pledges made in just a few days of a fundraiser. Those behind the effort say they're just getting started.

Save Iowa Sports was formed after the University of Iowa cut men's tennis, men's gymnastics, and men's and women's swimming and diving, due to COVID-19 related budget losses.

The organization has also written an open letter to University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld:

President Harreld,

Leaders step forward in difficult times to solve problems. They look beyond the immediacy of crisis and ask, ‘How can we use this problem to create something that is bigger and better than what we had before?’ They look at their mission and ensure that they are serving their constituents as they have promised. Then they dig in and proceed to do the work it takes to make that happen.

As B1G champions, All Americans, and even Olympic medalists, we know the depth and value of each of the four Olympic sports recently cut by the University of Iowa Athletic Department in a desperate effort to avoid insolvency. We know what the excellence of these programs mean to student athletes, the doors opened by the experience, and the sense of personal strength and power that comes from training to be a champion. And, as it happens, we’re chock full of leaders, those people who step forward at a difficult time to solve problems.

After the August 21, 2020 announcement by Athletic Director Barta, we stepped forward. First – and foremost – to provide comfort and support to the athletes and coaches affected by this decision. We gathered as generations of athletes to fight back against a decision that we knew was wrong. And we began to research and explore ways that we could help save Iowa sports, now and in the future.

We laid out specific details of a highly flawed process and requested a meeting with the Board of Regents, twice, and were provided cursory denials. But B1G champions, All Americans, and Olympic medalists take any obstacle as a challenge. And we have risen to that challenge.

We write today, proudly representing an incredible group of Hawkeye students and alumni, athletes and fans, parents, and Iowans who understand the importance of history and legacy at this once proud institution. On Monday, September 21, 2020, we began a pledge campaign to raise money for these sports, and we are exploring models for how all of the sports at the University of Iowa can be funded in perpetuity so the student athletes of the present and future can know the tremendous value of representing the University of Iowa in their chosen sport and, like us, in our chosen professions.

We have heard your message about financial hardship as well as various figures thrown around in the press conferences about financial need for the Athletic Department as a reason to end these four Olympic sports. We want to engage in that conversation, but short of that we want to begin by removing the burden on the Athletic Department in order to reinstate the four sports. That’s why we have taken the effort to begin to raise the money needed. No other university with comparable heritage of intercollegiate athletics has taken such drastic measures to terminate entire programs, and more than 70 years of alumni will not stand idly by to let it happen.

Since Monday – just yesterday - we have received hard pledges amounting to $1,650,000. That is just the beginning. We want to make sure that these sports are restored in the short term as we work on longer term solutions for how to continue in perpetuity. This is what Hawkeyes do, we come together.

We are talking with attorneys and financial advisors about our position and how we could legally structure an organization that could fund these sports, with the goal of creating a model that could be used by colleges and universities across the nation. After all, the butterfly stroke in swimming doesn’t have to be the only thing created by Iowa swimmers.

We’d rather work with you. But our eyes are wide open to a number of serious financial problems at the Athletic department and we have concerns that we hope will also be addressed as well as proactive ideas to share.

This letter is a request to sit down with you and discuss how these programs could be reinstated. Please reply by close of business on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 to Mark Kaufman at

It is our hope that with this letter, you might be a leader who recognizes, as we do, that you, too, can step forward in this difficult time and be a part of solving the problems, rather than defending something that doesn't work.

With Best Regards and representing well over 500 athletes and alumni,

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