University of Iowa Athletics Agrees to Repay $2M in Racial Discrimination Settlement

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Mar 13, 2023

University of Iowa in fall.jpg

The University of Iowa and 12 Black former university football players have reached a $4.175 million settlement to end a racial discrimination lawsuit against the athletics department.

As part of the deal, the athletics department of Iowa University will pay $2.175 million to the state, and the latter will pay the remaining $2 million to cover the costs of the settlement.

According to a report by the Des Moines Register, the daily newspaper of Des Moines, Iowa, the group of former Black football players filed a lawsuit alleging that coach Kirk Ferentz fostered a racially discriminatory culture within the University of Iowa's football program.

The University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson praised the work and diligence of the Iowa Attorney General and State Appeal Board, saying she is committed to students' health and success on and off the field of play.

"After listening to the concerns of Iowans, and in consultation with Board of Regents leadership, I have determined that the University of Iowa Department of Athletics will reimburse the state general fund for the $2 million due to the recent settlement," she said.

However, the agreement immediately received criticism, with Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand saying he did not agree with the decision to use taxpayer money unless the university's athletics director Gary Barta was fired.

"I am delighted that she listened to the outcry from taxpayers who wanted real accountability," Sand told the newspaper.

Sand opposed using state funds for this settlement because three earlier racial discrimination cases resulted in the payment of more than $7 million under director Barta, who has served as Iowa's athletic director since 2006.

On the other hand, State Treasurer Roby Smith voted to approve the settlement; however, he called on the university's president to reexamine the school's relationship with director Barta and other people mentioned in the lawsuit.

Local media report that State Senator Annette Sweeney, a Republican, has also called to keep up the budget of the Board of Regents until Barta either resigns or his contract is terminated.

The University of Iowa was established in 1847, and it is the oldest university in the state of Iowa in the United States. The athletics department is responsible for managing and organizing the university's intercollegiate sports teams and athletic programs by offering coaching support, equipment, resources, and more.

As of fall 2021, more than 33,000 students are enrolled at the university, including nearly 24,500 undergraduates and 8,500 graduate and professional students.

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