University of Iowa announces addition of women’s wrestling program
Lauren Louive (right) of Hawkeye Wrestling Club takes on Randi Beltz of Titan Mercury WC in an exhibition match at the US Women’s Special Wrestle-off at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday January 22, 2016. (Liz Martin / The Gazette)
IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa officially announced Thursday morning that it will add women’s wrestling.
The Hawkeyes are the first NCAA Division I Power Five program to feature women’s wrestling. Women’s wrestling gained NCAA Emerging Sport status last year.
The Hawkeye Wrestling Club has sponsored freestyle wrestlers on the international circuit.
The national search for a women’s wrestling head coach will begin this fall. The goal is to start the program for the 2023-24 season.
Below is the full press release from the University of Iowa’s Sports Information Office.
Iowa to become first Power Five institution to add women’s wrestling
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa’s athletics department is adding women’s wrestling as an inter-varsity program, becoming the first NCAA Division I, Power Five conference institution to feature the sport.
“This is an exciting day for the university, our department and the sport of women’s wrestling,” said Gary Barta, director of the Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Chair of Track and Field. “Our history of wrestling and our success make it a perfect fit. We are convinced that in Iowa, our female wrestling student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level athletically and academically. “
The NCAA has recognized women’s wrestling as an emerging sport in 2020 for all three divisions. Currently, there are 45 varsity women’s wrestling programs, including five in the state of Iowa. In addition, 32 states have sanctioned state wrestling championships for high school girls. In Iowa, the state tournament is sponsored by the Iowa Coaches Association and over 600 girls competed in high school wrestling a year ago.
“It’s important to a lot of people for a lot of reasons,” said Iowa wrestling head coach Tom Brands. “It’s historic. It had to happen, and it’s fitting that it happens first at the University of Iowa. There is no better place in the world to wrestle than Iowa City, Iowa, and with our new wrestling facility, we’re ready to deliver world-class training to our Hawkeye men and women.
Iowa Track and Field is in the middle of the Carver Circle campaign, a campaign that supports a new world-class wrestling training facility. The facility, which will be fully funded by donations, will be located south of the Carver-Hawkeye arena and connected to the arena by a tunnel. It will include offices for coaches, changing rooms and an expanded training space for the men’s and women’s programs.
“The enthusiasm and financial support from our wrestling fans and alumni is tremendous. There is continued momentum with the Carver Circle campaign as well as private support to fund the start of women’s wrestling, ”Barta said.
With the addition of women’s wrestling, Iowa will offer 22 sports, including 14 women’s teams and eight men’s teams. The university has already added women’s rowing in 1994 and women’s football in 1996
“We are committed to gender equality and Title IX compliance,” Barta said. “As the national landscape related to registration continues to change, the addition of women’s wrestling puts us in a better position for the future. “
A national search for an Iowa women’s wrestling head coach will begin this fall with plans to begin competing in the year 2023-24.
QUOTES FROM THE WRESTLING COMMUNITY
Tamyra Mensah-Stock – USA Wrestling, 2020 Olympic Gold Medalist
“This is incredible news for women’s wrestling. It’s good to see these changes happening, especially because there are so many states sanctioning women’s wrestling. It makes me happy to see this happening and I want to thank Iowa for being a trailblazer in the sport. With this decision, I know it will only be a matter of time before other schools in Division I follow suit.
Mike Moyer, Executive Director, NWCA
“This extraordinary announcement represents the 100th Interuniversity Women’s Wrestling Program in All Divisions and Governing Bodies that has been established since 1999. I know I am speaking on behalf of our Board of Directors and our NWCA staff when I say that the University of Iowa is a pioneer for the entire NCAA. Division I Power 5 Conference Sports Departments to follow. Creating this new opportunity for female wrestlers at a university with so much history and tradition in wrestling creates incredible momentum for our sport. More importantly, it means more opportunities for more students. It is a victory that we should all celebrate.
Terry Steiner, U.S. National Women’s Wrestling Coach
“The University of Iowa, which is launching a women’s program, places women’s wrestling at the highest level of athletics in the NCAA. It helps our national team to become an even stronger power on the world stage. As a University of Iowa graduate and former student-athlete, it makes me proud to see Iowa become a leader in the fastest growing women’s sport in our country. This is also good news for men’s wrestling at the varsity level, as our sport will have a bigger footprint on college campuses across the country. “
Josh Schamberger, President Think Iowa City & Iowa City Area Sports Commission
“Today’s news is incredibly special and monumental in many ways. It was only a matter of time for Iowa City, Iowa, Wrestling Town USA. Our community hosts the state’s annual Girls Wrestling Tournament and we have directly helped launch three area high school girls’ programs. We regularly host Coach Steiner and the United States Women’s National Team, and we are honored to play a small part in making this a reality.
Cathy Zaharis – Chair, Iowa Presidential Committee on Athletics and Women’s Wrestling and Carver Circle Contributor
“The University of Iowa continues to be a leader in academia and athletics, and this is another shining example. As President of PCA, I am delighted that we can provide this opportunity for students- athletes to achieve their educational goals at the University of Iowa. As a fan, I am delighted that young women come to the University of Iowa and compete for the Big Ten and NCAA Championships as Hawkeyes .