Iowa Has Paid $230K to Put COVID Athletes in Hotel

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The University of Iowa athletic department has spent more than $230,000 since June putting about 180 COVID-19-positive student-athletes up in hotel rooms and paying for their food, according to data the athletic department provided after a request by The Gazette of Cedar Rapids.

The total includes $192,713 on 1,665 nights in an undisclosed hotel in the Iowa City area between June 1 and Sept. 30. UI student-athletes with positive COVID-19 tests stayed from one night to 15 nights in the hotel, records show. The median stay was 10 nights.

On six occasions, or 48 night stays, student-athletes shared rooms. Deducting that from the total night stays amounts to 1,617, which divided by the total cost comes to about $120 per room per night.

The UI paid another $40,983 on per diem payments for student-athlete food while they were in hotel isolation.

As reported by The Gazette, UI Housing and Dining has made 250 to 300 residence hall rooms across campus available for students to use for quarantine and isolation. But Andy Peterson, a UI pediatrician and head team physician, said the Athletic Department decided to have most student-athletes stay in the hotel because they live off campus with other student-athletes.

“While not all student-athletes are directed to a hotel, in many cases this has been determined as the ideal location for isolation and reducing additional contact with a roommate/teammate,” Peterson said in an email.

“We are following the guidance of our medical professionals that have required a 10-day isolation for those individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, and a 14-day quarantine for those individuals who have been identified as having close contact with a known positive,” said Barbara Burke, deputy athletic director.

Athletic director Gary Barta cut four sports — men’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s gymnastics — Aug. 21. By September, the UI athletic department projected a $75 million deficit for this year, primarily due to lost TV revenue from football. Supporters of the cut sports have raised about $3 million to save them, but have not convinced athletics administrators to reverse their decision.

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