Iowa to Become 1st Division I Power 5 School to Offer Women's Wrestling Program

Doric SamSeptember 23, 2021

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 18:  Mascot Herky the Hawk of the Iowa Hawkeyes waves a flag to celebrate after a touchdown during the first half against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Kinnick Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The University of Iowa made history on Thursday.

The Hawkeyes athletics department announced it will add women's wrestling as an intercollegiate program, becoming the first Division I, Power Five school to do so. The team will begin competing in the 2023-24 season.

The Iowa Hawkeyes @TheIowaHawkeyes

The University of Iowa: Home of <a href="https://twitter.com/IowaW_Wrestling?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IowaW_Wrestling</a>.<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hawkeyes?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Hawkeyes</a> will become the first Power Five institution to add women’s wrestling.

"Our wrestling history and success makes this a perfect fit," Iowa's athletic director Gary Barta said in a press release. "We are confident that at Iowa, our women’s wrestling student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level athletically and academically."

In 2020, women's wrestling became recognized as an emerging sport by the NCAA for Division I, Division II and Division III. There are 45 intercollegiate women's wrestling programs, with five in the state of Iowa. At least 40 NCAA varsity programs are required to gain full championship status.

"This is historic," Iowa wrestling head coach Tom Brands said. "This needed to happen and it’s appropriate that it is happening first at the University of Iowa. There is no greater place in the world to wrestle than Iowa City, Iowa, and with our new wrestling facility we are prepared to offer world-class training for both our Hawkeye men and women."

The Hawkeyes are one of the best wrestling programs in NCAA history with 24 team championships, the second-most all time, with their most recent win coming in 2021.

Some 32 states have sanctioned high school girl's wrestling championships. As the first Power Five school to offer women's wrestling, Iowa will have a huge head start in recruiting.

"We are committed to gender equity and Title IX compliance," Barta said. "As the national landscape related to enrollment continues to change, adding women’s wrestling puts us in a better position for the future."

Iowa will begin its search for a women's wrestling coach this fall.