Iowa becomes first Power 5 school to add women’s wrestling

Iowa becomes first Power 5 school to add women’s wrestling

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa announced Thursday it will become the first Power Five school to add a women’s wrestling program and it will begin competition in the 2023-24 season.

“Being the first is huge,” Iowa men’s wrestling coach Tom Brands said. “Being the first is impactful.”

Iowa’s men’s program is coming off its 24th NCAA national championship. Athletic director Gary Barta said adding a women’s program had been discussed for several years.

“(Wrestling) is part of the history of Iowa,” Barta said. “It’s part of the university’s DNA.”

A search for a head coach will begin this fall.

The NCAA recognized women’s wrestling as an emerging sport in all divisions in 2020. There are 45 women’s intercollegiate wrestling programs, including five in Iowa.

The sport is growing at the high school level — 32 states have a sanctioned girls high school wrestling state championship. Girls wrestling is not sanctioned by the two high school athletic associations in Iowa, but has a state tournament sponsored by the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association. More than 600 girls participated in wrestling in Iowa last season.

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club has been sponsoring female wrestlers since 2017. Terry Steiner, the U.S. women’s national coach, won an NCAA individual title and was part of three NCAA championship teams when he wrestled at Iowa in the early 1990s.

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