Having exhausted every avenue to save their sport from the chopping block, University of Iowa men's tennis team members have taken to wearing red shirts in protest against athletic director Gary Barta's decision to discontinue the program.
As reported by CBS affiliate KCCI in Des Moines, the Hawkeyes eschewed their traditional black and gold while improving to 2-0 on the season, which will serve as their last.
In August, the Iowa athletic department cut four sports — men's tennis, men's gymnastics, and men's and women's swimming and diving — hoping to save $5 million, as the pandemic caused budgetary woes for schools nationwide.
Since then, only the women's swimming and diving program has been reinstated after four athletes sued the university, claiming the the move violated Title IX.
Men's tennis players gathered more than 3,500 signatures on a petition, and a group called Save Hawkeye Sports has raised $6 million to spare the men's programs, but to no effect.
"There's not much more that we can do," senior Will Davies, one of few players to finish his career at Iowa, told KCCI. "We tried our best."
In a statement to KCCI, deputy director of athletics Barbara Burke said, in part, "We certainly have empathy for our student-athletes. We will continue to support and communicate with them to ensure they have every opportunity to compete this year, make decisions for the future, and continue their academic progress."
Iowa will honor the scholarships of the athletes who decide not to transfer.