The University of Iowa in 2021 became the first NCAA Power Five school to add women’s wrestling as an intercollegiate program. This historic Hawkeye team will be led by Clarissa Chun, one of the most accomplished athletes in international wrestling.
David Scrivner
UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Office of Strategic Communication

The University of Iowa’s history of placing women at the forefront is nothing new.

As early as 1855, Iowa became the first public university in the U.S. to admit men and women on an equal basis. Fifteen years later, in 1870, Iowa was the first medical school in the country to admit women, and in 1873 Iowa Law was among the first law schools to award law degrees to women. Christine Grant, the first and only women’s athletic director at Iowa, was hired in 1968 and became a national leader in the gender equity movement in sports.

The UI lived up to its reputation again in September 2021 when it announced it was adding women’s wrestling as an intercollegiate program, becoming the first NCAA Division I Power Five conference school to offer the sport.

Then, two months later in November, Iowa hired Clarissa Chun as the first head coach of its women’s wrestling team. 

“It is an honor to be involved in a historic and exciting opportunity for young women across the country to compete as Hawkeyes in women’s wrestling,” Chun says.

“I can’t tell you how huge it is to be part of an institution that supports women just as much as they support men,” says Chun. “I can’t even put into words what it means because there are so many young girls that want to be here, at the University of Iowa, who want that chance, that opportunity to wrestle and represent the Hawkeyes. There’s so much pride and honor to be able to wear that Tiger Hawk on their chest.”

Chun is among the most accomplished athletes in international wrestling.

A two-time Olympian, she took fifth at the 2008 Beijing Games before earning a bronze medal at the 2012 London Games. She wrestled at five Senior World Championships, which included a gold-medal performance at the 2008 Worlds in Tokyo. She also competed at the 2000, 2009, 2011, and 2012 World Championships.

During her career, which spanned 18 years competing at the senior level, Chun won five U.S. Open titles. She was a 2011 Pan American Games silver medalist; won four gold medals at the Pan American Championships; and was a runner-up at four U.S. World Team Trials and three U.S. Opens.