IOWA CITY, IOWA- MARCH 3: Guard Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes waves to the crowd during senior day festivities after the match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 3, 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Caitlin Clark Explains Why She's Deciding to Leave Iowa

Caitlin Clark sent shockwaves throughout women's basketball last week when she announced her decision to forgo her fifth and final year of NCAA eligibility and declare for the 2024 WNBA Draft

Although this was the decision most people had been expecting the NCAA's all-time leading scorer to make, it was clear throughout the season that Clark was still undecided about whether to go pro or return to Iowa in 2024. 

Clark confirmed that when she was interviewed about being named the Big Ten women's basketball player of the year by a unanimous vote on Tuesday. And she was asked about what went in to her decision to leave Iowa.

"It was definitely a really hard decision," Clark said. "And I think the biggest thing for myself was I felt like I'm just kind of ready for a new challenge. And I feel like my game has developed enough to where I can begin to play in WNBA. Obviously, there's going to be things for me to learn, and that's what's so exciting.  

"And that's always been my dream," she said. "There's pros and cons to both and I would have loved to be able to do both and make our fans happy, make everybody else happy, but I feel like this season has allowed me to have a lot of closure."

While the decision was always going to be Clark's to make, some others certainly had a vested interest in her electing to remain at Iowa. 

On Monday, Puck News correspondent John Ourand broke news on X that Fox television considered putting together a multimillion-dollar NIL (name/image/likeness) package to keep Clark in school for one more season, because the attention Clark brings to women's college basketball has created record-setting viewership numbers.

While Fox's offer was never made to Clark — she announced her decision before the NIL package was complete — their eagerness to invest in Clark's return to Iowa conveys just how big of a star she really is. 

Clark was also asked about what went into her actual draft announcement. The Iowa icon said, "Just making an announcement, it's kind of the same to enjoy senior night to allow my teammates to enjoy senior night and not distract from them because four other really great seniors that are on our team." 

Now the question becomes whether Clark and her teammates can procure Iowa its first NCAA championship before she starts playing for the Indiana Fever. 

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