The University of Iowa has announced this afternoon that they will discontinue four varsity athletic programs, including men’s and women’s swimming and diving. The announcement is in response to the approximately 100 million dollars the universities athletic department projects they will lose due to COVID-19 and fall sports postponed.
“We are writing today with some extremely difficult news. In consultation with the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, we have made the decision to discontinue four of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year”, said University President Bruce Harreld and Director of Athletics Gary Barta.
This announcement hits hard for former Forest City prep, Emma Sougstad. Sougstad, a 2013 FCHS grad, is a former star athlete for the University of Iowa swimming program. She is also getting set for her second season as an assistant coach for her beloved Hawkeyes.
Their statement continued by saying, “We are heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff. We also understand how disappointing this is for our letterwinners, alumni, donors, and community members who have helped build these programs”.
As a Hawkeye, Sougstad was a three-time NCAA qualifier and a two-time All-American in 2016 and 2017. She earned first-team All-America honors in 2017 after placing sixth in the nation in the 100 breast with a school-record time of 58.78 — the fifth-fastest time in Big Ten history. The time propelled her to compete in the 2016 Olympic Trials.
Sougstad still holds individual school records in seven events — 100 breast (58.76), 200 breast (2:10.47), and 200 IM (1:57.55) and as part of the 200-free (1:30.96), 400-free (3:18.83), 200-medley (1:38.99), and 400 medley (3:36.71) relays. She also has the second-best time in school history in the 50 free (22.63) and 100 fly (53.30).
Sougstad and the Hawkeyes will complete this academic year before the doors are shut. That is if the Big Ten allows for a swimming and diving season.
In a Facebook post, Sougstad said, “Once a family, always a family. I couldn’t be more thankful for the people and experiences Iowa Swimming and Diving brought into my life and shaped me into who I am today. The opportunity to compete and coach for the Hawkeyes was a true joy and my heart goes out to our athletes, coworkers, alumni, and teammates today”.
In her first year as a coach, Sougstad coached four NCAA qualifiers, but the NCAA Championships were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. All four of those swimmers joined Sougstad as All-Americans. She also helped the Hawkeyes broke 12 program records in 2019-20, and 11 earned Big Ten Conference weekly recognition.
Emma started coaching following her senior season at Iowa. She was an assistant coach for the University of Miami (Ohio) for the 2017-2018 season. She then spent two seasons as the communications director for the College Swimming Coaches Association of America or (CSCAA).
Marc Long is Sougstad’s head coach, entering his 17th year at the helm. He has coached 161 school records have fallen, and 409 Hawkeyes have qualified for the NCAA Championships.
The University announced that men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics would also be cut due to budget shortfalls.
“The University of Iowa has faced many challenges in its history. We are confident these changes, while difficult, create a path forward for Iowa Athletics to remain self-sufficient and allow our remaining programs the opportunity for sustained excellence and fiscal stability”, the two administrators concluded by saying.