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Former field hockey coach intends to file lawsuit against UI

BY BILL COONEY | JULY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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Former Hawkeye field-hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum plans to file a lawsuit against the University of Iowa almost a year after being dismissed from her position.

Officials fired Griesbaum in August 2014 after an internal investigation by the university reportedly uncovered accusations of misconduct. She was released without cause and paid $200,000, as stated by her contract.

“Tracey has had a successful career as our head field-hockey coach. I am appreciative of her service,” Hawk Athletics Director Gary Barta told The Daily Iowan in a release shortly after Griesbaum’s contract was terminated. “Following a comprehensive review of the field-hockey program conducted this summer, I have made the decision it was time for a change in leadership.”

The internal investigation, conducted by UI Human Resources and the UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, reportedly found an atmosphere of “fear and/or mistreatment” under Griesbaum.

Griesbaum and lawyer Tom Newkirk disputed these findings and urged the university to conduct an independent investigation into alleged gender bias in the Athletics Department, but so far no action has been taken by the UI.

Griesbaum has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission before making her lawsuit official.

The UI responded in a statement to The Daily Iowan:

“The University of Iowa has received notification from the Iowa Civil Rights Commission about the complaint filed by Tracey Griesbaum,” the statement said. “The UI respects the commission’s jurisdiction and will cooperate fully with the investigation.”

Gender did not play a role in the decision to fire Griesbaum, the UI said.

“The UI’s decision to change leadership in the field-hockey program was not related to gender,” the statement said.

“UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta decided to remove Tracy Griesbaum after an investigation conducted by the UI Department of Human Resources and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity that did not find violations of specific UI policy but did describe a team environment of ‘fear, intimidation, and/or mistreatment by Coach Griesbaum.’ ”

The university said the investigation addressed complaints spanning several years.

“The investigation was in response to numerous complaints of harassment and mistreatment from student-athletes in the field-hockey program over a period of several years,” the statement said.

Four Iowa field-hockey players filed a Title IX complaint against the UI in January. Chandler Ackers, Jessy Silfer, Natalie Cafone, and Dani Hameon (who has now graduated) allege the university holds female coaches to a higher or different standard from male coaches, allows male coaches to use coaching methods that female coaches aren’t permitted, among other complaints.


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