The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Barta: Many abuse complaints in 2014


Information regarding in which sports some athletes alleged verbal and mental abuse in 2014 exit interviews could have been made available to Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta if he had requested it, he testified in court Wednesday.

Documents presented Wednesday in Meyer v. University of Iowa showed that during 2014, the same year allegations of verbal abuse were made against field-hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, there were 27 other allegations of verbal abuse and 28 allegations of mental abuse made in the student-athlete exit survey.

The student-athlete exit survey is administered to every athlete at Iowa, and is facilitated anonymously, Barta testified. Because the survey is anonymous, he claimed, it made it “hard to investigate” those allegations, and therefore they were not investigated, even though he later admitted he could have obtained the proper information from Fred Mims, the administrator in charge of the surveys at the time.

“I did not check with Fred, but I suspect I could have [dug deeper],” Barta said.

Barta testified he had fielded complaints on three separate occasions about abuse in the field-hockey program — once recently after he arrived in Iowa City in 2006, another in 2011, and once more in 2014, which ultimately led to Griesbaum’s termination.

Barta claimed both the first complaint and the 2011 complaint were handled in the Athletics Department, but the allegations had escalated in that time. They again escalated in 2014, which is why he ordered an investigation, he said.

“I needed additional assistance to get to the bottom of it,” Barta testified.

Josey Bathke, who along with Tiffany Stephenson-Earl were in charge of the investigation into the field-hockey program, testified on her investigation Wednesday.

Thomas Newkirk, Jane Meyer’s attorney, walked Bathke through her investigation, asking questions about whom she interviewed, what kind of questions she asked, and if she was thorough.

One of the first questions Newkirk asked was if Bathke was to investigate Meyer and Griesbaum’s relationship.

“It was an issue we looked into at the same time [as the abuse allegations],” Bathke testified.

Bathke said she and Stephenson-Earl did not find any policy violations, as had been stated many times prior to her testimony.

Barta claimed Wednesday the main reason he decided to terminate Griesbaum, even though the investigation found no policy violations, was that she was a “coach that was never going to change,” and her previous behavior was cause for concern.

After Griesbaum was terminated, Barta said, he was contacted by three field-hockey athletes who told him they “came [to Iowa] to play for Tracey” and that they wanted him to reinstate her. The same three athletes also wrote a letter to then-UI President Sally Mason on the same issue.

On Oct. 15, 2014, the athletes claimed Barta was ignoring them and that an investigation would show Griesbaum was a target of gender discrimination because of her being fired.

On Sept. 3 of that year, Griesbaum asked for a review of her firing and whether her gender affected her termination. Her request was not met.

Meyer raised discrimination complaints to Jennifer Modestou, the director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, while Griesbaum was being investigated in 2014, Modestou claimed in court Wednesday.

Jill Zwagerman, one of Meyer’s attorneys, grilled Modestou about why Meyer’s discrimination claims went uninvestigated.

Modestou said there would have been certain conflict-of-interest obstacles to hurdle considering much of her team had been involved in the field-hockey investigation, but did admit a third party could have been brought in to investigate.

More to Discover