Four members of the University of Iowa’s women’s swimming and diving team filed a lawsuit against the school on Friday, alleging that the decision to eliminate the program violates Title IX.
According to CBS 2 Iowa, plaintiffs Sage Ohlensehlen, Christina Kaufman, Alexa Puccini and Kelsey Drake are asking a judge to block the university from eliminating the program following the 2020-21 season. Core to their case is the argument that the school is failing in its duty to provide equal opportunities to female student-athletes.
The school announced it was planning to cut the program amid financial hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic, a move that took some of the team members by surprise.
"Never in any of our wildest dreams did we think this would happen," Ohlensehlen said.
The university issued a response to the lawsuit on Friday.
“The University of Iowa last recently completed a four-year review by the Office of Civil Rights on compliance with Title IX in the Athletic Department,” the statement read in part. “In 2019, the Office for Civil Rights closed its investigation with no findings of any violation in the 13 categories of Title IX. The university remains committed to staying in compliance with Title IX.”
In addition to cutting the women’s swimming and diving team, Iowa also cut three men’s sports — resulting in a net impact on 64 male student-athletes compared to 38 female student-athletes.
Still, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit remain committed to seeing their complaint resolved.
"I'm one-hundred percent committed for fighting for equal rights and especially when it comes to athletics, I think we all deserve the opportunity to fight for the sport," Puccini told CBS 2 Iowa.