A media firestorm broke on social media earlier this morning, largely centered around Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta.
News of a $4.175 million dollar settlement being reached was first broken by Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register, who has been providing great reporting on this matter. This is incredibly brave reporting by the newspaper, which Barta publicly reprimanded back in 2021 for only covering the University of Iowa’s athletic scandals, with no coverage given to any scandals at Iowa State or UNI.
And now Gary Barta is sounding off once again, this time in regards to the uneven distribution of lawsuits between Iowa and their counterparts Iowa State and UNI.
“You know, it really isn’t fair to us as an athletic department and as an institution that we are the only university in the state who is getting into these lawsuits. Iowa State and UNI aren’t carrying their weight in this department, and haven’t for the entirety of my tenure here”, said Barta on Monday. “It’s really frustrating when you think about it.”
“For me, as an athletic director, it would be very helpful to our department if the other schools would step up, do their job, and come up with some lawsuits that lead to big settlements to help balance the scales”, Barta said. “A system can only handle free-loaders for so long. I’d be happy to advise them and provide some ideas on how to finally start contributing.”
This settlement is the culmination of a lawsuit filed by a group of Black former University of Iowa football players claiming racial discrimination was embedded in the culture of the football program. Two million dollars of the lawsuit, according to the article, were expected to come from the Iowa Taxpayers via the state’s general fund.
During an appeal hearing, Rob Sand, the State Auditor, stated staunch opposition to using taxpayer funding, recounting a laundry list of reasons why.
Gary Barta’s long history of lawsuits with the University of Iowa dates back to 2007, and includes discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, intimidating victims of sexual assault, hiring and retaining coaches with a history of causing and neglecting player injuries, and employing advisers that trade football tickets for sexual favors and sexually harass students for decades on end. Those lawsuits have totaled nearly $7 million in payouts. That figure excludes the current $4 million dollar settlement.
Going further, Sand has requested that, if taxpayer money be used, Barta should first be terminated without severance: “Enough is enough. Clear personal accountability is necessary. I will not support taxpayers funding this settlement unless Gary Barta is no longer employed at the university and forfeits any severance or similar pay. I encourage you to join me. Real accountability will help prevent discrimination, protecting both taxpayers and future victims.”
Stay tuned to WNRL for more developments in this story.