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PCA talks gender biases, scholarships, mentor programs

BY BRENDAN MAGEE | FEBRUARY 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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Officials from the Presidential Committee on Athletics met Thursday to discuss various issues and occurrences with the University of Iowa Athletics Department, tackling the controversial firing of former Field Hockey Coach Tracey Griesbaum.

“I’m strongly comfortable that there’s not a different standard and not based on gender, not based on anything else,” UI Athletics Director Gary Barta said at the meeting. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and this is the hardest thing have I have to do. I have to fire people on the occasion.”

The UI has been asked to look into whether Griesbaum was fired because of gender discrimination after four field hockey players filed a Title IX against the university.

Griesbaum was fired back in August after several student-athletes said Griesbaum verbally abused them.

Gene Parkin, a professor of engineering and Ellen Herman, coordinator of field experiences at the UI spoke to members of the council about the recent legislation passed by NCAA government.

One of the most noteworthy was whether an athlete’s scholarship can be decreased in value or non-renewed if an athlete doesn’t meet a certain standard that was expected.

“The students had different opinions, you can’t decrease the value or non-renew a scholarship because you recruit a player for a first-teamer and then after training they become a second-teamer,” Herman said.

“What was really interesting is [that one student] said if you take a scholarship away then you are paying because their athleticism, which is turning that scholarship into a salary,” Parkin said.

Members also went on to discuss a new program that Brian Donatelli, UI senior swimmer and member of the Presidential Committee on Athletics proposed.

Donatelli wants to create an athletics mentor program for freshmen athletes coming into the university.

The program would comprise of 14 senior athletes breaking into seven groups of two and providing guidance, starting in the athletics seminars.

“I know as a freshman I always was hoping to have someone to look to and get advice from,” Donatelli said.

Members of the committee were all of support of creating such a program and because this program would be so engaging it would be absolutely successful.

“We’re hoping to have a guy and a girl and not in the same sports to make it more diverse,” Donatelli said. “Adding another sport will create a whole other dynamic.”


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