The Fight for UIC Gymnastics, and How You Can Help

Yesterday, August 31, the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams at UIC were informed that both programs will be dropped after the 2019 season. Scroll to the bottom of this post for information on how to help.

According to an email sent to UIC gymnastics alumni and friends by men’s head coach Charley Nelson, the men’s program has competed for an astounding 71 seasons. The team has won two national championships — and is the only program at the school to have ever won an NCAA title — and holds the UIC school record for most All Americans. Additionally, the team hosts the annual Windy City Invite, an electric competition that kicks off the season for about half of the NCAA men’s field. The UIC men also hosted the 2018 national championship.

On the women’s side, the team has won the Midwest Independent Conference title 12 times, and made nine regionals appearances. UIC also has a long history of recruiting international gymnasts from around the globe, including South Africa, Sweden, Spain and Germany. German Toni Alicke is a current team member. For the men, current team member Asad Jooma represents Pakistan internationally, and recently competed at the Asian Games. Jooma also vaulted in the national championship finals in 2018.

While losing any gymnastics program is detrimental to collegiate gymnastics in general, losing two programs with such long histories is particularly damaging. Eliminating the UIC men’s program would leave only 15 Division I men’s teams (there are an additional five club programs).

The men’s and women’s teams have taken to social media to express both unity and a desire to fight for their programs.

They’re not the only group ready to fight back. Randy Lane, UCLA associate head coach and chair of the College Gymnastics Growth Initiative, is organizing collegiate coaches, athletes alumni, parents and fans in a coordinated campaign to lobby the UIC administration to reconsider cutting the programs. Lane’s group is calling on anyone invested in collegiate gymnastics to join the cause.

Lane sent a communication to members of the coaching association urging every member to reach out directly to the UIC Athletic Director and Chancellor. In that letter, which was provided by Lane to College Gym News, women’s head coach Peter Jansson states that the coaches of the two teams were never consulted while the decision was being made by administration. Lane states his intent to flood UIC with support on Tuesday, September 4; all members of the gymnastics community are encouraged to participate.

Here’s how you can help:

Contact Garrett Klassy, UIC Athletic Director, and Michael Amiridis, UIC Chancellor during the holiday weekend (contact information below) and ask them to reconsider their decision. You can also contact Tonya McGowan, UIC women’s gymnastics administrator.

Garrett Klassy: gklassy@uic.edu, 312-996-2695. Twitter @KlassyAD.
Michael Amiridis: chancellor@uic.edu, 312-413-3350
Tonya McGowan: tmcgowan@uic.edu, 312-996-3556.


Article by Emily Minehart. Updated September 2 to reflect the nature of the communications sent by Lane to college coaches. Updated September 4 to include Tonya McGowan’s contact information and Garrett Klassy’s Twitter handle.

This post will be updated as events unfold.

11 comments

  1. One of my gymnasts was to sign a letter of intent to UIC in November. She chose UIC over other schools now she has none. Now what do these kids do who gave UIC their commitment to them.

  2. Please reconsider your decision… as a former college gymnast, this is so devastating! UIC was always great competition with great athletes.

  3. Please reconsider, My Daughter only dreams of doing gymnastics in college. We have 2 years till she graduates. Please keep college gymnastics going nation wide!

  4. We need to fight and stand up against this decision. Collegiate gymnastics needs to grow and we need to figure out how to expand their programs; instead of just cut programs, and eliminate these student athletes dreams.

  5. Both men’s and women’s gymnastics are so important st the NCAA level. The number of children this will impact is devastating, not just for UIC. As the father of a collegiate gymnast, I can’t thank the NCAA enough. It is the sport she loves.

  6. Here is the breakdown, ultimately… the best and brightest minds in the country are here at this university and they can’t figure out how to keep this program? Here in the ‘real world’ we face similar struggles every day, week and quarter… winning companies overcome, others don’t. If the solution was easy, you would have found it… don’t stop at easy. Quitting isn’t as valuable a lesson as achieving!

  7. I know all athletes put their hearts and souls into their sports, but having been a gymnastics mom for 32 years I’ve seen how hard gymnasts work to attain the level needed to compete in college. My son started at the age of 10 and is still actively involved in the sport. He is a coach and does everything he can to inspire and challenge his kids to perform at their best. The phrase Blood Sweat and Tears is not just a saying to gymnasts; it is a daily occurrence. Why would a university want to discourage students from attending their school who display the qualities needed to be a gymnast?

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