University of Iowa Won't Explore Alleged Gender Bias in Coach Firing

Illustration for article titled University of Iowa Won't Explore Alleged Gender Bias in Coach Firing

University of Iowa has dug its heels in regarding the firing of Field Hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, whose employment was terminated in August amid allegations of misconduct. She is one of five female coaches dismissed since 2009, but the school refuses to investigate an alleged pattern of sexist practices in its athletic department.


According to the Associated Press, Griesbaum’s lawyer Tom Newkirk has been corresponding with the Univeristy of Iowa to push for an investigation into his client’s dismissal after 14 years and three consecutive Big Ten Tournament championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008 for the Hawkeyes.

“Athletic director Gary Barta fired Griesbaum following a three-month investigation into the program. The firing was without cause, which required Iowa to pay a $200,000 buyout under a five-year contract signed last year. Barta named Griesbaum's longtime assistant, Lisa Cellucci, the interim coach days before practice began.”

Despite calls for her reinstatement from the field hockey team (past and present), parents, rival coaches and a supporter Facebook page, Barta and University President Sally Mason remain unmoved, insisting that she was dismissed for abusing and mistreating her players and not because of an institutional sexist vendetta.

Newkirk proposes that Griesbaum was fired for using the same motivational tactics other coaches have employed, but is being held to a different standard because she's a woman. Newkirk also pointed out that Griesbaum’s homosexuality might have factored into her firing.

In response, Barta said in a statement that he’s not sexist, citing the fact that during his tenure, he's axed three male coaches in addition to the five women he's let go.

Then Iowa’s Assistant attorney general George Carroll got involved on the part of University of Iowa, writing Newkirk that “the university denied any discrimination and will not conduct an investigation into the purported 'implicit gender bias' in women's athletics" or reinstate his client. In another letter, Carroll added: "Neither your lengthy letters nor the poorly veiled threat of media attention will change the university's position."


Interesting. Something seems fishy with this story, though I'm not quite sure on whose part.

Image via University of Iowa.



As someone who lives in this area: Sally Mason is a horrendous president on all issues having to do with sexism. This is the same woman who said rape was "human nature," after all. Interesting that the coach's sexuality may have also been an issue here, since Mason recently laughed off a group of people protesting the pink locker room for the opposing team in the football stadium.