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No Iowa men’s soccer team soon, despite sport’s prominence

BY ZACH CHRISWELL | JULY 08, 2009 7:21 AM

If Iowa had a men’s soccer team, there are plenty of people that believe it would have potential.
But even the recent performance of the United States in the FIFA Confederations Cup, the university has no plans to add a men’s soccer team to the list of Division-I sports at Iowa.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said thethought of adding any new sports, men’s or women’s, has not been brought up in the past few years.

“We have 22 sports, and the last several years, for economic reasons, we’re trying to take the 22 sports we have and make them the best we can,” he said. “So we just haven’t entertained adding any sports.”

Of the 11 teams in the Big Ten, seven have a sanctioned men’s soccer program. The other three Big Ten schools in addition to Iowa that don’t have men’s soccer are Illinois, Minnesota, and Purdue.
While Minnesota has no sanctioned men’s team, like Iowa, it has a sanctioned women’s team.

Minnesota Athletics Director Joel Maturi says Title IX, as well as finances, plays a role in the absence of a sanctioned men’s team.

“It is finances, which would be associated to some extent with Title IX, because for me to add men’s soccer, I would also have to add a women’s sport,” he said. “Therefore, it’s as much financial as anything else.”

Title IX states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Iowa’s 22 sports are split into 10 men’s sports and 12 women’s sports.

But this isn’t to say that there isn’t any men’s soccer taking place on the UI campus.

The Iowa Men’s Soccer Club is a competitive group that plays games most weekends against other Big Ten schools. Tryouts occur in the first two weeks of the fall semester.

The head of the club, Alex Helmuth, called not having a sanctioned men’s soccer program at Iowa a shame.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate, because there are a lot of soccer players in this city,” the senior said. “And I know a lot of the guys who play on the club team here would love to have a real soccer team with a coach and all the proper equipment.”

Joel Ryerson, also a senior-to-be, is a member of the men’s soccer club, but he ended up choosing the university for academic reasons.

“I think that [the state of] Iowa has a lot of good players, and there is really no school for them to go to continue playing,” Ryerson said. “Personally for me, I had to choose between my education or soccer, and I chose the accounting program here at Iowa.”

It’s not only the men’s soccer club players that think the lack of a university-sanctioned team is unfortunate.

Nicole Slevin, who plays for the Iowa women’s soccer team feels men’s soccer is more fast-paced than women’s soccer and believes that having a men’s team would draw a crowd.

“For men’s soccer, I think it’s really unfortunate … I feel like Iowa would have a great team if we did have a men’s team,” she said. “It would be great to have another soccer team out here … we have great facilities, and I think a lot of people would come to their games.”

Jack Hilgard, a men’s soccer player at Northwestern who will be a junior for the Wildcats next fall, said he would have looked elsewhere for education if Northwestern hadn’t had a men’s program.

It’s too bad that Iowa, among others, doesn’t have a team, he said, and he thinks Iowa could recruit good players. He also believes expansion would be good for the Big Ten.

He feels his soccer team represents the school well and said the team is far more important than just playing a game.

“We do a lot of stuff in the community, which I think is good for the school,” Hilgard said.


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