Kirk Ferentz 'greatly disappointed' by settlement reached in racial discrimination suit
Kirk Ferentz issued a statement on Monday expressing he was “greatly disappointed” by the settlement reached with a group of former Iowa football players in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought against the program.
The Hawkeye head coach, who was claimed by the group to have overseen a racially discriminatory culture, said settlement negotiations took place without the knowledge or consent of the football coaches who were named in the suit. Ferentz disagreed with the decision to settle, asserting the case would have been dismissed with prejudice before trial.
Ferentz’s full statement can be found below, via Chad Leistikow of The Des Moines Register:
I am greatly disappointed in how this legal matter was resolved. However, I am grateful for the many players, parents, donors, fans, and others who remained supportive of our coaches and program during this time.
The settlement negotiations took place between plaintiff’s counsel and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office which represents the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents. These discussions took place entirely without the knowledge or consent of the coaches who were named in the lawsuit. In fact, the parties originally named disagree with the decision to settle, fully believing that the case would have been dismissed with prejudice before trial.
A motion for summary judgement was filed which outlined why the case should have been dismissed. Unfortunately, this settlement was reached between the plaintiff’s attorneys and the lowa Attorney General’s Office before the judge had an opportunity to rule on the motion. We have been told the reason for the settlement is financial. As a part of the settlement, the coaches named were dismissed from the lawsuit and there is no admission of any wrongdoing.
For more than two years, our program has been unfairly and negatively impacted by these allegations. Members of the staff had their character and reputation tarnished by former members of our team who said things, then recanted many statements when questioned under oath.
Today we move forward. My focus is entirely on the players, coaches, and staff as we prepare for the 2023 season.
The settlement is for $4.175 million. The Iowa athletic department is expected to pay $2.175 million while the state will be hit with the remainder of the tab, according to Leistikow.
Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand said Monday morning he opposed using taxpayer funds in this settlement unless athletic director Gary Barta was fired, citing three previous racial discrimination cases totaling $7 million-plus in payouts under Barta’s watch.
Sand was one of 3 members of the Iowa Department of Management’s State Appeal Board who voted 2-1 Monday to approve the settlement. Sand’s nay vote was overridden by Department of Management Director Kraig Paulsen and State Treasurer Roby Smith, though Smith added that he would encourage Iowa to “re-examine” its relationship with Barta and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.