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UI Presidential Committee on Athletics members support department reorganization

BY ERIC CLARK | DECEMBER 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Amid a brewing controversy regarding the University of Iowa’s handling of a sexual-misconduct investigation regarding former athletics adviser Peter Gray, the Athletics Department’s compliance and student services units will now be separated, and a few members of the Presidential Committee on Athletics endorse the decision.

Gray, a former associate director of UI Athletics-Student Services, resigned Nov. 5 amid allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with student-athletes and exhibited sexual and non-professional behavior in the workplace, The Daily Iowan has previously reported.

In addition to the reorganization of the departments, UI Associate Athletics Director Fred Mims will be reassigned. Before his reassignment, he was the associate director of the now separated student services and compliance department. Mims’ new assignment had not yet been announced as of Sunday evening.

Presidential Committee on Athletics head N. William Hines said the split of the two units is likely due to the increased workloads of the departments.

“It’s a pretty reasonable thing to do,” he said. “There was an opportunity to split the departments without overloading the new employees.”

Barta said in a release on Nov. 30 the reorganization of the program has been discussed over the past few years, citing several of the UI’s peer institutions pursuing similar transitions.

“The growth in scope and responsibilities in these two areas has increased significantly over the years,” he said. “In response to that reality and the issues experienced in our student-services area recently, I believe it is in the best interest of our student-athletes to make this transition today.”

Penn State and Ohio State — both peer institutions of the UI — have recently grabbed the attention of the nation with their recent changes in department organization, with both schools facing severe NCAA sanctions for misconduct in their respective athletics departments.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State hired an “integrity czar” in February to lead its compliance department. This move came after numerous scandals related to the football program.

Penn State has made numerous efforts to reform its recently tainted image in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Penn State implemented new background checks for Penn State sports-camp employees, revamped the structure of its Board of Trustees, and it now has five compliance employees in the Athletics Department, among numerous other changes.

Former Sen. George Mitchell , the school’s athletics-integrity monitor,  told the Post-Gazetteon Dec. 1 that he was pleased with the results of the reformation so far, and that the process was “far-more than a ‘check-the-box’ exercise.”

Barta said that while many of the details regarding the UI’s change have yet to be completed, they will be immediate, and the departments will be run under interim directors.

Presidential Committee on Athletics member and UI Professor Michael O’Hara said while the move is likely beneficial, it wasn’t “on his radar.”

“I hadn’t perceived any problems in the past,” he said. “But the separation could help reduce the current conflict.”

UI President Sally Mason endorsed Barta’s decision, thanking him for his leadership and decision-making.

“We have an obligation to provide our student-athletes with the very best opportunity for a positive experience as students, athletes, and members of the University and Iowa City communities,” she said in the release. “These changes will help us to continue to accomplish that.”


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