Gary Barta is not very good at his job, and should be removed from his job, for cause.
For those unaware, the University of Iowa, the Athletic Department, and specifically Gary Barta, recently lost a discrimination lawsuit against former Senior Associate Athletic Director, Jane Meyer, costing the University $1.43 million. Then, settled another discrimination lawsuit with Meyer and Tracey Griesbaum, former Iowa Field Hockey coach and Meyer’s partner, for $6.5 million. All of this was avoidable, and it all falls on Gary Barta.
Let’s go through a timeline:
- On August 4th 2014, Barta fires Tracey Griesbaum 2 weeks before the season starts due to allegations of abuse. There was a huge backlash from the Field Hockey community and the players on the team.
- Jane Meyer, Griesbaum’s domestic partner and Senior Associate Athletic Director, was re-assigned from the athletic department to oversee the construction of other university buildings (still doing recovery from the flood of 2008).
- In February of 2015, three field hockey players file a formal Title IX complaint against the university.
- In July of 2015, Jane Meyer files a civil rights complaint with the state.
- In November of 2015, Jane Meyer files a discrimination lawsuit against the university.
- Those allegations of abuse that kick started all of this? Well, the university did look into them at the time, even did an official review and report was generated. Guess what? It came back saying there was real no substantial evidence at all of anything coming close to being fireable. This information came out in January of 2016.
- In February of 2016, Gary Barta gets a fucking contract extension.
- In the same damn month, the Department of Education starts an investigation into the university over gender bias, based on the Meyer/Griesbaum complaints.
- Somewhere in here (I can’t find the date, right now) Griesbaum filed a discrimination lawsuit against the university.
- In April of this year, the lawsuit that Jane Meyer brought goes to trial.
- In May, the jury unanimously finds in Meyer’s favor, awarding her $1.43 million.
- Later in May, the university settles all further lawsuits with Meyer and Griesbaum for $6.5 million.
- The University currently has hired out for an external review of policies that could have led to this discrimination. That process, and the results, should be completed sometime in the next month, or so.
- There is currently a federal Title IX investigation going on, and that should be completed about the same time frame.
The feeling is that once the Title IX investigation and the external review have been completed, Barta will be let go, most likely for cause, thus nullifying his buyout.
Some notes that came out during the trial. There was a consensus from witnesses (a who’s who of Iowa coaches, Ferentz, Bluder, Heller, Brands) that Meyer was very difficult to work with, that she rarely took their requests into consideration with regards to facilities upgrades. However, none of this was written down or documented, at all. It was all post hoc testimony. But there have also been some stories floating around from local media that came out before the trial that Meyer was basically a bully, and horrible to work with. Jane Meyer however, produced lots of documentation that she was a model employee. She never received a poor performance review, and even had written notes from Tom Brands that thanked her for work she had done. She has been a part of the athletic department since 2001, preceding Barta himself. She was then passed over for a senior athletic director position by now Kansas State athletic director, Gene Taylor. She was told that she would not be considered for the position.
The thread through all of this is Gary Barta and his complete disregard for documentation or any semblance of management skills. He apparently fostered an Old Boy’s club environment within his department. He needs to go.
Other helpful links for this story: