women

Women’s wrestling, rugby backers join Iowa gender complaint

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa students who want to establish intercollegiate women’s wrestling and rugby programs were added as plaintiffs Thursday to a lawsuit seeking more sports opportunities for female Hawkeyes.

The case filed last month by members of the women’s swimming and diving team seeks to stop Iowa from eliminating their program after this season.

They argue that Iowa doesn’t comply with a federal law that requires colleges to offer equal athletics opportunities to male and female students, and they want more roster spots for women.

Iowa says it’s following federal law and that the decision to eliminate men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics was based on a budget crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

One plaintiff joining the case in an amended complaint is Iowa freshman Abbie Lyman, who competed in wrestling at high school in Cedar Falls. Lyman had hoped to continue the sport in college after placing at the state tournament but “found no institutional support for it at” Iowa, the lawsuit says.

“She believes that, given the UI’s international reputation for wrestling, a women’s wrestling team would attract many athletes and receive deep support from the undergraduate student body and the citizens of Iowa,” it says.

Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands has supported female wrestling in the past, telling the NCAA Board of Governors in a 2017 letter that “it is long overdue for women to share in the opportunities of this great sport.”

The other new plaintiff is Iowa senior Miranda Vermeer, president of the women’s rugby sports club. Vermeer believes Iowa could have a traveling varsity rugby program with more support from the university, the lawsuit says.

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