Iowa Refuses to Compensate Ex-Players Claiming Bias

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The University of Iowa general counsel's office stated Sunday that it would not pay the $20 million demanded by former Hawkeye football players who allege they faced racial discrimination while at the school.

In addition to the monetary compensation, the group of eight Black former players seek the firing of athletics director Gary Barta, head coach Kirk Ferentz and assistant coach Brian Ferentz over what the players contend was intentional racial discrimination during their Hawkeye careers, according to the Des Moines Register.

According to the certified letter dated Oct. 5, if the demands are not met to the former athletes’ satisfaction by today — Monday, Oct. 19 — the athletes were prepared to pursue a lawsuit “to ensure they are rightfully compensated for their emotional, mental and bodily damages and that Iowa is appropriately held accountable for its unlawful, discriminatory conduct.” 

The group is represented by Tulsa civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and has additional demands, including attorney’s fees; the creation of a permanent Black male senior administrator position in Iowa athletics; mandatory anti-racist training for athletics staff; the establishment of a board of advisers including Black players and anti-racist professionals to oversee the football program; and tuition waivers for any Black athlete who did not graduate with a degree during Kirk Ferentz’s 22-year tenure. 

On Sunday, UI general counsel Carroll Reasoner formally replied to Solomon-Simmons to say the football program had previously taken steps to implement some of the demands but unequivocally added, “We respectfully decline your monetary and personnel demands.” 

As reported by the Register, the brewing lawsuit is a continuation of the upheaval engulfing the Iowa football program after approximately 60 former players in early June shared examples of racial bias or mistreatment. Their revelations led to a review of the program by outside law firm Husch Blackwell.

The findings of the Husch Blackwell investigation, which was conducted at the direction of Barta and university president Bruce Harreld, were made public in a 28-page report released July 30. While the report concluded that “the program’s [stringent] rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases,” it found “positive changes since the inception of the review” and overall favorable opinions of Kirk Ferentz as the head football coach. 

To date, 21-year strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle is the only person to lose his job over racial-bias allegations that shook the program in early June, the Register reported.

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