The University of Iowa has reached a settlement with former athletes suing the football program for racial discrimination. The University and the state Board and Regents will pay $4.175 million to 12 former players and their attorneys plus cover court costs, The Athletic reported on Monday.
This settlement comes nearly three years after multiple former Black players accused Iowa’s coaching staff of enabling a power structure that enabled racial bias. Most of the complaints were towards Chris Doyle, who was the nation’s highest-paid strength coach, before signing a separation agreement with Iowa.
According to court documents obtained by The Athletic, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, athletic director Gary Barta and Doyle were all dismissed as defendants with prejudice, meaning the ruling is the final judgment in this case and cannot be refiled.
The settlement, which is pending approval by the State Appeal Board, would grant around $2.26 million to the players, with the rest of the money covering attorney fees and court costs. However, that approval is not guaranteed. Iowa’s state auditor, Rob Sand, made a strong condemnation of Barta, who has led Iowa’s athletic department since 2006, and said he will oppose the settlement if the university retains the longtime AD.
Sand is one of three members of the State Appeal Board. Here is his statement in which he took Barta to task:
“Under Gary Barta’s leadership at the University of Iowa Athletics Department, we’ve had the Peter Gray scandal plus three instances of discrimination totaling nearly $7 million in damages (setting aside other suits),” Sand said in a statement to other board members and first reported by The Des Moines Register. “After (a $6.6 million settlement to former associate athletics director Jane Meyer and field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum on gender and sexual discrimination claims), Barta asserted no wrong was done. Now we have a new matter for $4 million more, and for the first time, they want part paid from the taxpayers’ general fund, even though they now collect tens of millions annually (through) the Big Ten TV deal.
“Enough is enough. Clear personal accountability is necessary. I will not support taxpayers funding this settlement unless Gary Barta is no longer employed at the university and forfeits any severance or similar pay. I encourage you to join me. Real accountability will help prevent discrimination, protecting both taxpayers and future victims.”
We’ll have to see if Iowa stands its ground and retains Barta, or ultimately decides to move on from a man who has cost the university a lot of money over the years.