(release courtesy of Hawkeye Athletics)
The University of Iowa baseball team will represent the United States at the World University Games from Aug. 19-30, 2017, in Taipei, Taiwan, UI officials announced Monday.
The Hawkeyes were selected by the United States International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF) to represent the United States. Iowa was selected as the team to represent the U.S. from several schools that expressed interest.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our student-athletes, staff, and the University of Iowa to be able to represent our country at the World University Games,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “This experience will be tremendous from both a competitive and educational standpoint, and we’re thrilled to be able to play against some of the best competition in the world, while wearing the red, white, and blue.”
With more than 170 countries competing in 21 sports, the World University Games are held every other year and are organized by the International University Sports Federation. The event is a multi-sport competition open to men and women between the ages of 17 and 24, and who have been, within the past year, a student at a college or university.
“We are excited to have our baseball program represent the United States, State of Iowa, and our university at the World University Games,” said UI director of athletics Gary Barta. “It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that our student-athletes can learn and grow from.”
Up to 12 teams will be competing at the World University Games (the field will be set in February), where they will be divided into two groups to compete in round-robin play. The best two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals (No. 1 from Group A vs. No. 2 from Group B and No. 1 from Group B vs. No. 2 from Group A) and an eventual championship and third-place game.
Teams that do not advance out of the group in one of the top two spots will play in a similar style consolation bracket to determine fourth place and below. Action will be held at Taipei Tienmu Baseball Stadium and New Taipei City Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium.
“We’re incredibly excited to have the University of Iowa joining us as the USA National Baseball Team for the 2017 World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan,” said Nels Hawkinson, deputy head of delegation for the USA Team. “Coach Heller, the student-athletes, and staff will have one of the greatest experiences of their lives staying in Athletes Village with over 10,000 athletes from 170 countries.
“The opportunity to march during the opening ceremony, experience the wonderful Taiwanese culture, and represent the Hawkeyes and the United States is something we are proud to offer to student-athletes in this country.”
For Iowa’s participation, only U.S. citizens can compete and incoming freshmen and transfers qualify. The UI travel party, consisting of 22 competitors and 10 staff (32 total), will spend more than two weeks in Chinese Taipei and live in the athlete village throughout the Games. The opening ceremony takes place Aug. 19. A live stream of the event will be available.
Iowa is the second university team to represent the USA in baseball, joining Cal State Fullerton in 2015. The Titans finished fourth, dropping the bronze medal game to Korea. It is the fourth time baseball has been contested at the World University Games, with the first two being in 1993 and 1995.
The competition will be the Hawkeyes’ second international exposure within a nine-month span. Iowa will take a foreign trip to the Dominican Republic in November.