Monday, March 07, 2016

Field hockey coach files lawsuit & other Iowa updates

The long awaited lawsuit against the University of Iowa was filed today by former field hockey coach Tracy Griesbaum. As expected, the complaint alleges a department culture of discrimination against women and points places responsibility on current Athletics Director Gary Barta who has been in the position since 2006. (Barta's contract was just extended--see below.) Griesbaum is asking for her job back and that measures be taken to change the culture of the department.

Regarding the latter, the complaint cites the retaliation against female coaches who asked for improvements in conditions for female student-athletes, the firing of female coaches and replacement with male coaches, and different standards for male and female coaches in regards to behavior with athletes and win-loss records. The University released a statement supporting Barta in response to the filing.

Iowa settled a lawsuit brought by a former assistant track and field coach earlier this year. Mike Scott was a volunteer in the program and applied for a paid position with the program multiple times (there were several failed searches). He had a temporary contract, but ultimately lost the position to a woman. In his lawsuit Scott stated that the was told that the department wanted a woman to fill the position. The final search did indeed yield a female coach. It seems like this insistence on a female coach was an attempt to counter the ongoing allegations against female coaches that existed before Griesbaum's lawsuit. Scott received $200,000.

In other somewhat related Iowa news:
The faculty expressed their concern with the ways things are operating within Iowa's administration. The controversial process and selection of the new president, J. Bruce Herrald, a businessman with no experience in academic administration, already had faculty and other Iowa community members concerned. So recent moves by the administration, including the reappointment of Barta draw criticism all around and a public letter from the university's chapter of the AAUP.

Regarding Barta's reappointment, they noted that--according to AAUP philosophies of university governance--faculty are responsible for the welfare of students, including student athletes, Regarding the latter, there is a committee comprised of faculty members who look at and address issues in the athletics department and make recommendations. The Presidential Committee on Athletics also participate in job searches for staff members who work with student athletes.The PCA was not part of the decision to extend Barta's contract. From the letter:

Despite these directives that faculty be involved in important decisions involving student athletes, early this year your office extended the contract of Athletics Director Barta for an additional five years. There was no consultation with the PCA. This happened in a year in which — though there was impressive success on the playing fields — significant concerns were raised regarding gender equity in athletics. The university now faces investigation by the U.S. Department of Education in response to student athletes’ complaints.