After a group of Black football players attending the University of Iowa accused head coach Kirk Ferentz of leading a racially discriminatory team, a settlement has finally been reached.
The lawsuit was initially filed in November 2020 by star running back Akrum Wadley and Kevonte Martin-Manley. The two Hawkeyes players alleged that their coach commonly used racial slurs, forced them to assimilate to “state culture” and abandon their own cultural background, and were discouraged from speaking out against Ferentz.
As of this week, the lawsuit has reached a settlement of upwards of $4 million after the Department of Management’s State Appeal Board voted 2-1 to approve the verdict.
The state of Iowa will pay $2 million to the former college football players, and the University’s athletic department will pay the remaining $2.175 million. State Auditor Rob Sand was a member of the board who voted against the settlement, arguing that Iowa’s athletic director Gary Barta should be fired for having multiple lawsuits of discrimination filed under his watch rather than having state taxpayers pay for the damage.
“I can’t imagine a private company that would still have someone at the helm after four discrimination lawsuits under that person’s leadership,” Sand explained. “The athletic department, they’ve got the funds for it. The broadcast deal brings tens of millions of dollars every year going forward. I don’t know why they can’t cover their own mistakes and pay for their own mistakes instead of having taxpayers do it.”
University of Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz believes the lawsuit should have been dismissed.
Following the settlement, the head coach openly discussed his “disappointment” over the lawsuit.
“The settlement negotiations took place between the plaintiff’s counsel and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which represents the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents,” Ferentz said in a statement. “These discussions took place entirely without the knowledge or consent of the coaches who were named in the lawsuit. In fact, the parties originally named disagreed with the decision to settle, fully believing that the case would have been dismissed with prejudice before trial.
“A motion for summary judgment was filed which outlined why the case should have been dismissed,” he continued, maintaining his innocence from the accusations. “We have been told the reason for the settlement is financial. As a part of the settlement, the coaches named were dismissed from the lawsuit, and there is no admission of any wrongdoing.”
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