IOWA CITY, Iowa – When the state, the University of Iowa Athletics and 12 former Hawkeye Football players settled a racial discrimination lawsuit earlier this week, it was announced Iowa taxpayers would be paying $2M of it. UI president Barbara Wilson released a statement Thursday telling Iowans they were off the hook:
“I appreciate the work and due diligence of the Iowa Attorney General and State Appeal Board. After listening to the concerns of Iowans, and in consultation with Board of Regents leadership, I have determined that the University of Iowa Department of Athletics will reimburse the state general fund for the $2 million due to the recent settlement. I am deeply committed to our students’ success and well-being on and off the field of play.”
Wilson’s statement was a departure from her office’s response to the Des Moines Register earlier this week when asked to comment on the settlement. Reaction to that and taxpayers footing almost have the tab was not reflecting well on her and her university.
Thursday’s announcement means the UI Athletic Department will pay the full $4.2M of the settlement. It follows a ’17 agreement with former employees that cost the department $6.5M. Gary Barta is in his 17th year as athletic director.
The UI Athletic Department is self-sustaining and does not use tax-payer money. It is still repaying $50M borrowed from the university’s general fund during the Covid pandemic, however. The losses from that fiscal year turned out to be $35.8M less than Barta estimated.