University of Iowa Hit with Title IX Lawsuit

    • Four members of the University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving team are named plaintiffs.
    • The school announced Aug. 21 that it was cutting both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.

Daily Newsletter

Sign up and see why influential business executives call it a “morning must-read.”

Four members of the University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving team filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school a month after it was announced the program would be cut.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa on Sept. 25, alleges Iowa “engaged in a continuing pattern and practice of discrimination against women on the basis of sex in intercollegiate athletics in violation of Title IX” and seeks an injunction to prevent the school from eliminating the sport.

“We have our hands tied,” said freshman Iowa swimmer Alexa Puccini, one of the co-plaintiffs. “Now, we have to make a decision about what we have to do. I am 100% committed to fighting for equal rights, especially when it comes to athletics. I hope the University of Iowa will see that we are fighting for something because it is special to all of us. I want to be able to continue my career here, but we are also fighting for those who will be coming here after me.”

Puccini, Sage Ohlensehlen, Christina Kaufman and Kelsey Drake are the named plaintiffs, although the lawsuit seeks class action status. 

The lawsuit centers around Iowa’s alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a statute that requires schools that receives federal funding to ensures nobody can “be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination.”

Iowa announced Aug. 21 that it was cutting both men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams after the current academic year after it projected a $100 million loss of revenue due to the pandemic.

“We are heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Iowa President Bruce Harreld and Director of Athletics Gary Barta said in a joint statement when the cuts were announced. “We also understand how disappointing this is for our letterwinners, alumni, donors and community members who have helped build these programs.”

Messages left with the University of Iowa were not immediately returned.