Iowa City, Iowa (KCRG) - The University of Iowa Athletics Department announced Thursday morning that it will be adding a women’s wrestling program.
According to American Women’s wrestling, there are more than 40 NCAA programs. Four schools currently offer women’s wrestling at the Division I level. Presbyterian College in South Carolina and Sacred Heart University in Connecticut are the two schools with women’s NCAA Division I varsity teams.
“This is important to a lot of people for a lot of reasons,” said Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands. “This is historic. This needed to happen and it’s appropriate that it is happening first at the University of Iowa. There is no greater place in the world to wrestle than Iowa City, Iowa, and with our new wrestling facility we are prepared to offer world-class training for both our Hawkeye men and women.”
In February, University of Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta confirmed the university was considering adding a varsity women’s wrestling program, given the history and tradition on the men’s side and the NCAA recognizing women’s wrestling as an emerging sport. Barta added that in order to add women’s wrestling, the department would need up to potentially $1.5 million in startup costs.
“This is an exciting day for the university, our department and the sport of women’s wrestling,” said Barta. “Our wrestling history and success makes this a perfect fit. We are confident that at Iowa, our women’s wrestling student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level athletically and academically.”
According to the NCAA, to qualify for the Emerging Sports for Women program, there must be at least 20 varsity teams competing in a minimum of five competitions each year. In order to be added as a championship sport, 40 schools need to offer women’s wrestling.
After adding women’s wrestling, Iowa will offer 22 sports, including 14 women’s teams and eight men’s teams.
Girls wrestling continues to grow at the high school and youth levels in Iowa, but is not a sanctioned sport by the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union.
The University of Iowa Athletics Department plans to hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the program and to answer questions. It will be livestreamed here.