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Iowa field-hockey players file Title IX complaint against university

BY DANNY PAYNE | FEBRUARY 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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Four Iowa field-hockey players have filed a Title IX complaint against the University of Iowa, ESPNW reported Thursday. Sophomores Chandler Ackers and Jessy Silfer, along with junior Natalie Cafone and senior Dani Hemeon (who recently finished her last year of eligibility for the Hawkeyes), alleged gender bias in the firing of their former head coach, Tracey Griesbaum, whose contract was terminated under a not for cause clause on Aug. 4, 2014.

The report was filed to the U.S. Department of Education and Chicago branch of the Office of Civil Rights on Jan. 28.

The complaint makes five allegations about gender and sex stereotypes the university employs. The players contend that the following harm Hawkeye student-athletes:

• The school treats complaints by female athletes differently from complaints by male athletes;
•The school investigates female coaches differently from male coaches;
• The school uses different practices and standards when investigating female coaches;
• The school permits male coaches to use coaching methods that female coaches aren’t permitted;
• The school “generally holds female coaches to a higher or different standard from male coaches.”

On why it’s harmful, the four student-athletes wrote the following.

“The university’s stereotype-motivated reaction to a minority group of females on the team who are emotionally upset by the methods of the female coach also harms the females who complained. It enables stereotypes about them as well as the coach and completely undermines the experience of the entire team.”

The university has yet to comment on the situation, saying it has yet to receive the complaint, “so we can’t comment on it,” Iowa director of athletics communications Steve Roe told The Daily Iowan. Further, he said, the Office of Civil Rights hasn’t contacted the university, and Iowa doesn’t know if it will be contacted.

“We do want to reiterate that Tracey Griesbaum’s employment as head coach of the UI field-hockey program was not terminated based on her gender,” Roe said.

Griesbaum was fired after a summerlong investigation into complaints from two former Hawkeyes. The investigation concluded Griesbaum created an environment in which student-athletes felt intimidated or pressured into playing, but added that environment didn’t violate any policies.

Griesbaum’s relationship with her partner, former-Senior Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer, also did not violate any university policy. Meyer has since been reassigned to a position outside the Athletics Department because Griesbaum’s attorney, Tom Newkirk, has publicly mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit against the university.

From ESPNW, “The Office of Civil Rights will decide whether to launch a Title IX investigation,” and no specific timetable exists for that decision.


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