Kirk Ferentz Blasts Settlement Decision in Iowa Racial Discrimination Suit
In a move that came after his alumni advisory committee was dissolved, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has issued a statement blasting the state’s ruling to pay half of a $4m settlement with former players who filed a lawsuit over racial discrimination in the Hawkeye program. The decision came after a year and a half of investigation by Husch Blackwell into Ferentz’s football program that found evidence of racial bias against Black players.
The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2020, claimed that Black players had to ‘abandon’ their ‘Black hairstyles, fashion and culture’ to be allowed to play for Iowa. It also alleged that Black players were demeaned with racial slurs; forced to kneel during the national anthem; and retaliated against for speaking out about their experiences.
Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons of Solomon-Simmons Law Firm said in a release that the lawsuit was “just the latest example” of racial discrimination in Iowa’s athletic department under Ferentz. The suit seeks $20 million in damages and other steps aimed at improving the treatment of Black players.
Barta to Receive Compensation for His Role in Settlement
The school’s athletic director, Gary Barta, has been on the hook for a substantial portion of a $4.175 million settlement with 13 former Black Hawkeyes who allege that they were racially discriminated against. The lawsuit also named UI and the Board of Regents as defendants.
The deal comes on the heels of a bruising fight that took place in a May 2021 ruling by a federal judge. It was a 21-page ruling that removed Barta, Ferentz and other coaches as defendants in the case; dismissed six counts; and trimmed the number of plaintiffs from 13 to seven. In the settlement, Barta is to receive a lump sum of $1.3 million in compensation and an annual deferred compensation payment.