Iowa gymnast not surprised about cuts, but worried about future of the sport

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 12:56 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Several athletes are still processing the University of Iowa’s decision on Friday to cut four programs due to budget shortfalls from the pandemic: men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis. Athletic Director Gary Barta will hold a press conference on Monday at 2 p.m. to address the cuts.

For junior gymnast Stewart Brown, the cuts weren’t a surprise to him, but it still wasn’t easy, especially when practice is supposed to start soon.

“So basically all summer, I was really involved in researching and following along the financial situation the university was in,” Brown said. “But in the room, there were a lot of people that were completely blindsided. You could tell that they had no idea what was about to happen. There were freshman that had just shown up a week prior and they’re so excited to start their Hawkeye journey, and then it’s like, it’s just shutdown immediately.”

As a freshman, Brown was a B1G bronze medalist in the vault and was an NCAA All-American in the parallel bars.

The university said that all scholarships from the four programs being cut will still be honored and the teams will still compete for the 2020-21 academic year. However, that could still change with the pandemic.

“I think the team is wanting to go in there and just enjoy it, and just try to make memories while we can because we really don’t know what day we walk in and it could be our last day walking in,” Brown said.

Iowa is the first B1G school to cut athletic programs since the start of the pandemic. Brown fears this is just one of many cuts that could jeopardize the sport of gymnastics.

“It may take three, four or five years, but I think we’re going to get to a place where there will be no NCAA men’s gymnastics,” Brown said. “And at that point, you have kids that have been growing up in the sport and committing their life to it and wanting to go to college, wanting to go to the Olympics, and they’re not going to have anywhere to go.”

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