UI officials plan to look further into Peter Gray allegations


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University of Iowa President Sally Mason said Tuesday that the UI is continuing to look into the allegations against Peter Gray, the former associate director of athletics student services.

“Regarding the recent media reports about Peter Gray, it is a confidential personnel matter, and the university will not make any additional comment,” Mason said in a statement. “However, I want to assure you that we are continuing to review all the details regarding this matter and how it was handled.  Once all the facts are known, I will take all necessary actions that are warranted.  My priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff.”

Gray was accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toward student-athletes, and a formal complaint was filed against him to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, according to a report obtained by the Iowa City Press Citizen. Some of the allegations include inappropriate touching and unprofessional behavior.

When allegations are made against a staff member such as Gray, an investigation will typically follow, according to UI policy, and the accused will be held accountable for any resulting violations of the UI Ethics and Responsibilities for Staff policy. If violations are found to be true, the policy states that consequences can range from sanctions to termination.

In a Q&A with The Daily Iowan on July 24, President Sally Mason said all of the Big Ten institutions have examined policies and procedures to ensure something comparable to the Penn State allegations would not happen again.

“Every one of us has examined, in the wake of what happened at Penn State, what kinds of processes and controls we have intact in our institutions at this point in time to ensure against the kinds of things that happened, especially with the young victims at Penn State,” she said. “We all have sports camps, we all have programs that involve young children coming to our campuses. We all have to look at how we manage those programs, how we manage the people we have responsible for those programs, and that we have safeguards in place, so that something comparable to what happened at Penn State cannot happen again.”

Richard Fumerton, a former president of the Faculty Council, said in a meeting of the council Tuesday that a policy should be in place to avoid future concerns.

“I don’t know what the facts of this case are, and I probably have to say that it’s a personnel matter right now,” he said. “At some point in the future, it may be worth looking at such policies, but I don’t know what the facts of this case are.”

Faculty Council President Linda Snetselaar said in future instances, the background-check policy amendment the group passed on Oct. 16 will help the UI be more discerning in who is hired.

“I think the policy we just passed and the criminal background check is certainly a policy that we think is a stab at trying to do something that will allow for more careful thought on anyone we hire,” Snetselaar said. “I know in this case it didn’t apply to faculty, but this policy would apply to faculty and staff as well.”

At least one former colleague of Gray said she  wouldn’t have suspected any wrongdoing.

Cheyl Holt, the senior woman’s administrator and associate athletics director at Austin Peay University, said the one year she worked with Gray, she found him to be friendly and professional.  Gray worked there from 1992 to 1993.

“I knew Pete,” she said. “We would see each other at the mailbox, but as far as I know, there weren’t any issues. Professionally, he seemed well-spoken … he seemed to be professional.”

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