Kirk Ferentz Strongly Criticizes Iowa’s Decision in Racial Discrimination Suit Settlement
Following the dissolution of his alumni advisory committee, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has released a statement condemning the state’s choice to pay half of a $4 million settlement to former players who filed a lawsuit regarding racial discrimination within the Hawkeye program. This choice follows an in-depth year and a half inquiry conducted by Husch Blackwell into Ferentz’s football program, uncovering proof of racial bias targeting Black players.
Initially filed in 2020, the lawsuit asserted that Black players were required to abandon their cultural identity, including hairstyles and fashion, to participate in Iowa’s program. It also alleged that racial slurs were used against Black players, they were compelled to kneel during the national anthem, and faced retaliation for speaking out about their experiences.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, attorney at Solomon-Simmons Law Firm, emphasized that this lawsuit is just one of many instances highlighting racial discrimination within Iowa’s athletic department under Ferentz’s leadership. The legal action aims to secure $20 million in compensation and implement further steps to improve the treatment of Black players.
Furthermore, the school’s athletic director, Gary Barta, is set to receive compensation for his role in the settlement. Barta has been responsible for a significant portion of the $4.175 million settlement with 13 former Black Hawkeyes who alleged racial discrimination. The lawsuit also implicated UI and the Board of Regents as defendants.
This resolution follows a contentious legal battle, marked by a pivotal May 2021 ruling by a federal judge. The ruling removed Barta, Ferentz, and other coaches from the case, dismissed six counts, and reduced the number of plaintiffs from 13 to seven. Under the terms of the settlement, Barta is slated to receive a lump sum compensation of $1.3 million, along with annual deferred compensation payments.