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Feb. 15, 2015 — A critical look at the Iowa situation

Three weeks ago, four members of the University of Iowa field hockey team — including the team’s offensive star Natalie Cafone — filed a Title IX lawsuit against the university alleging unequal treatment of male and female coaches.

As of this weekend, there has not yet been a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Tracey Greisbaum, the former Iowa head coach who was let go just days before the start of the 2014 field hockey season. As this space has intimated, Greisbaum was let go after an investigation into bullying found no such pattern of behavior, but the University and athletic director Gary Barta went ahead and terminated her without cause, triggering a $200,000 severance.

Individually, the Greisbaum case, as we said all the way back in the fall, may turn on the pattern of hiring and firing on the part of Barta and the athletics department at the University of Iowa.

Hidden in a footnote in the students’ Title IX complaint is a damning argument about the five female coaches who were let go from the University of Iowa since 2008:

The University may point out that five of these coaches were also gay. That does not undermine in the slightest that the behavior toward these women was primarily based on gender. There is a clear connection between gender stereotypes and the fact that several of these coaches were also gay women.
In other words, the charge now against the University of Iowa’s athletic department is homophobia.
Iowa was the fourth U.S. state — after California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts — to legalize gay marriage. There was, however, a backlash after the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, as three elected justices were ousted thanks in large part to out-of-state political and fundraising groups.
Same-sex marriage, however, has remained legal in the state.
It’s about time that the University of Iowa got with the times.
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