Nearly two years removed from the University of Iowa paying $6.5 million to settle discrimination claims, an independent report has determined that Iowa's athletic department harbored no "inequitable treatment of applicants or employees on the basis of protected class," the university said Thursday.
According to The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, a 14-page report dated Jan. 18 by Fredrikson & Byron P.A., a Des Moines law firm, found "Multiple employees expressed a desire for more diversity in the Athletics Department, but none had personally experienced harassment or discrimination on the basis of protected class in the course of their employment."
The firm was hired in late 2017 to review the university's employment policies and athletics practices. Earlier that year, Iowa awarded former associate athletics director Jane Meyer $1.43 million based on her accusations that the university discriminated against her based on gender and sexual orientation. Meyer’s longtime partner, former Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum — having sued on similar grounds — joined Meyer in settling their cases for a combined $6.5 million.
Initially, the report was to be an analysis of salary data, personnel files, recruitment files and other records, but because the university later decided to exclude confidential personnel records "to protect employee privacy," the firm adjusted its plan to focus more on interviews.
The UI Athletics Department employs 231 people, including 84 women and 27 self-reported racial minorities. Fredrikson & Byron said it interviewed 19 current employees — including different races, sexual orientations and genders — during its review. The firm determined that athletics employees understand the importance of diversity, actively recruit women and minorities and know how to handle discrimination or harassment complaints. During the 2017 budget year alone, women accounted for 39 percent of the 18 coaching hires, though they made up just 19 percent of the applicant pool.
"The review illustrates that the athletics department does a good job overall, with some areas for improvement," Cheryl Reardon, Iowa's chief human resources officer and associate vice president, said in a statement.
To date, the university has paid Fredrikson & Byron $137,029.24 to review its employment policies and athletics practices.