IOWA CITY — This wasn’t a Big Ten decision. It wasn’t a University of Iowa decision.
“This was my decision, 100 percent,” Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder said.
When Tuesday came and Bluder was informed that the Hawkeyes’ hotel — in close proximity to both Washington, D.C., and the University of Maryland — was being taken over by the National Guard, that was it.
The Hawkeyes were staying home, even if the action risked forfeiture of Thursday’s Big Ten game with the Maryland Terrapins.
“Am I being cautious? Yes. I’m paid to play games. I understand that,” Bluder said in a Zoom conference call Wednesday afternoon. “I made this decision with the health and safety of my team and staff in mind.
“I would rather be cautious and safe than careless and regretful.”
The Hawkeyes (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) were scheduled for a 4 p.m. (CT) tipoff with No. 7 Maryland (11-1, 7-0) Thursday at College Park. They were slated to fly into Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
“When we got the schedule, I thought it was pretty unusual that we were flying to Maryland on Inauguration Day,” Bluder said. “Then, with the riots of Jan. 6, my thoughts turned to concern.”
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College Park is 9 miles from downtown Washington, a 30-minute drive. The Hawkeyes’ original hotel was 10 minutes from campus.
Bluder said that Maryland officials insisted that the Hawkeyes would be safe.
“I understand that, they live in this area,” Bluder said. “They said it was perfectly safe. Then, when the hotel said the National Guard was taking over the hotel ... ”
“Taking young women to that area, with thousands of national guards ... As a mom, would I allow my kids to go there? No. As a coach, I made the same decision.
“I am responsible for the well-being of the team and the staff, and that is the only thing this decision was based on.”
Three of Iowa’s Big Ten games, all on the road, have been postponed. Ohio State postponed its Dec. 19 game with the Hawkeyes because of COVID-19, and earlier this week, Rutgers did the same with its upcoming game, which was supposed to be Sunday.
“I’m not confident they’ll all be rescheduled, but we’re going to try,” Bluder said.
Iowa’s next game is next Thursday, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, against Northwestern. A tip time has not been established.
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