IOWA CITY, Iowa — Nearly every time Iowa’s athletics department faces an issue or crisis, it finds a way to make enough missteps or mangle the message to the point where even if it reaches the right conclusion, it always feels like a negative.

The most recent episode involves the reinstatement of women’s swimming. Last August, just minutes after the Big Ten canceled the fall football season, athletics director Gary Barta walked outside Iowa’s football facility to share the news with the women’s volleyball program. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its cash cow on hiatus, the department’s financial profile looked grim and Barta stared at a potential $100-million deficit. He told The Athletic the department had to look at all options but considered sport elimination as “a last resort.”

Iowa athletics immediately cut 40 jobs through both closing open positions and layoffs. Every employee agreed to a pay cut and three…



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