Iowa administrator testifies fired coaches often gay
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former University of Iowa athletic administrator said Wednesday that during her tenure she became concerned after noticing that female coaches who were fired were often gay and had become more open about their sexuality.
Jane Meyer testified about Iowa coaches as her case continued in Des Moines, where jurors are considering her claim that she suffered workplace discrimination as a gay woman in a relationship with a Hawkeye coach. Meyer alleges in a lawsuit the school also retaliated against her and paid her less than another deputy athletic director for similar work.
Meyer is seeking damages for pay and emotional distress.
Attorneys for Meyer said she was on pace to lead a Division I college program until she was unfairly transferred and later laid off. Meyer testified she felt she’d been “tucked away” when decisions on retaining women’s coaches were made and that at times, subpar facilities kept coaches from succeeding.
Meyer also said she felt slighted in 2011 when athletic director Gary Barta chose not to have her — the second-highest ranking member of the Hawkeyes athletic department — address the media when a highly publicized rhabdomyolysis outbreak sent 13 Iowa football players to the hospital.
Because coach Kirk Ferentz and Barta were out of town, Barta chose an assistant coach and a father of one of the affected players to take questions from reporters.
Meyer also pointed to years of “outstanding reviews” by both Barta and his predecessor, current Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, as proof of her abilities as an athletics administrator. She noted that a 2006 review by Bowlsby described Meyer as “more than ready to move into the director’s chair,” and that she also was named that year the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s administrator of the year after being nominated by Iowa coach Lisa Bluder.
Meyer claimed she was involved in roughly $350 million worth of facility work in her time with Iowa and that her efforts saved the school roughly $17 million.
Meyer’s difficulties with Barta began in 2014, when he fired field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum over complaints about her treatment of some players. Many players and fans protested the decision, and Griesbaum argued she was treated more harshly than male coaches and planned legal action.
After media reports that Meyer and Griesbaum had been in a decade-long relationship, Barta transferred Meyer outside the athletics department while her partner’s litigation loomed. Meyer worked as a university construction manager until being laid off last year when that position was eliminated.
Meyer also said that Barta told her she wouldn’t be considered for a deputy role when he reorganized the department a few years ago, saying Barta told her that he “wanted someone who could better represent him.”
Meyer’s testimony will continue Thursday, when the University of Iowa’s lawyers are set to cross-examine her.
Barta is expected to begin his testimony Thursday afternoon.