STEVE BATTERSON Quad City Times
The Iowa Board of Regents and the University of Iowa have agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought by seven former Hawkeye football players who have accused the program and several coaches of racism and harassment.
Under the terms of the settlement, approved Monday afternoon by the Iowa State Appeal Board, the university would pay $2.175 million and the state would pay an additional $2 million from its general fund in consideration for settling a lawsuit.
The announcement of a settlement came Monday and included the firing of Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, athletics director Gary Barta and former Hawkeye strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle as defendants.
Hawkeye Linebackers coach Seth Wallace was released from the lawsuit on February 23.
After the individuals were released from the lawsuit, the only remaining defendants were the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents.
Kirk Ferentz said in a statement the settlement negotiations were between plaintiff’s attorney and the Iowa Attorney General’s office, which represents the university and the Regents.
“These discussions took place entirely without the knowledge or consent of the coaches named in the lawsuit,” Ferentz said. “In fact, the parties originally named disagree with the settlement decision as they firmly believe the case would have been dismissed with prejudice prior to trial.”
He said a motion for summary judgment was made outlining why the case should have been dismissed but the settlement was reached before the judge had a chance to rule on the motion.
“For two years, our program has been unfairly and negatively impacted by these allegations,” Ferentz said. “Staff have had their character and reputation tarnished by former members of our team who said things and then retracted many statements when questioned under oath.”
A group of 12 former Iowa players filed the first lawsuit in 2020, alleging they faced racism and harassment while being part of the Hawkeye program. They demanded compensation of 20 million dollars.
The $4.175 million payout approved by Regents on Monday would include attorneys’ fees, legal costs and a settlement of claims to plaintiffs.
Only seven players, Darian Cooper, Javon Foy, Marcel Joly, Aaron Mends, Jonathan Parker, Brandon Simon and Akrum Wadley, remained as plaintiffs in the case, which was due to go to a jury trial that had been delayed beyond its original start date of Monday.
Under the terms of the settlement, the athletics department would pay up to $20,000 per plaintiff to cover graduate or trade school tuition, and the university will provide plaintiffs with a year of psychological counseling.
The agreement also provides for the university to pay travel and registration expenses for up to 10 Hawkeye student-athletes attending the Black Student Athlete Summit each year for the next three years.
Also, the university needs to hire a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant to help the athletic department implement its existing five-year diversity plan.