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Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

July 28, 2015 — One coach strikes back

Yesterday, numerous reports indicated that former University of Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum has filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. The complaint alleges gender bias on the part of the Iowa athletic department in connection with her firing last year.

The dismissal of Griesbaum, which came just weeks before the 2014 season began, was as a result of a university investigation into abuse and misconduct charges. The reaction, within the team and within the U.S. field hockey community, has been one of universal condemnation of the human resources practices of the athletics department. The track record of the university has not been kind to female coaches at the school, with at least six coaches being made to resign or fired over the last decade and a half.

The civil rights complaint is one of the last steps required before the filing of a lawsuit against the university. That makes the filing of this complaint a sizable step forward in this episode, because Greisbaum and her legal team aren’t likely to file the complaint without following through with the full lawsuit against the university.

The suit cannot be filed for another 60 days, whereupon the complainant can request a letter requesting the right to sue.

The next move, it seems, is up to the University of Iowa. It will have to respond to the allegations in the complaint to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

Or it can do so in court. Stay tuned.

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2 Comments»

  Ashlee wrote @

She wasn’t dismissed, she had her contract bought out by the AD. A contract that she signed and agreed to. A contract that contained a clause saying that the university could buy her out for $200k at any time without cause. The AD chose to do this, I don’t understand what the big deal is ?

  Beth Beglin wrote @

Ashlee–

Here’s the big deal: An “at will” employee can be fired for no reason or a ‘legal reason” but can’t be fired for an ILLEGAL REASON. Institutions have long tried to use an employee’s “at will” status to justify illegally firing an employee and paying a buy-out clause. In this case, Coach Griesbaum was fired for an illegal reason–gender bias. She denies ALL the allegations made against her. Furthermore, even if you hypothetically presume the allegations are true, men’s coaches at Iowa have demonstrated far worse behavior and/or with far worse results and have not been fired. That is GENDER BIAS. Coach Griesbaum is the 6th female coach forced out or fired in 8 years at Iowa. Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta has fired 83% of female coaches during his tenure while firing just 18% of male coaches. Meanwhile, 2 Iowa men’s coaches finished last in the Big Ten in each of their last 3 or 4 seasons and unlike female coaches who were allegedly fired for poor results, they were not fired.

Here’s the other part of the big deal–Gary Barta has effectively destroyed Coach Griesbaum’s coaching career. Unlike men’s coaches, who get rehired over and over again by male AD’s despite being fired (for them, it’s just considered part of the job), female coaches who get fired rarely ever get hired again. And if they sue their employer, they almost NEVER get hired again.

So I’ll tell you what, I’ll treat you differently from your fellow employees because of your gender, fire you illegally but pay your buyout clause, destroy your career, make you virtually unemployable in your chosen profession, and then I’ll ask you, “What’s the big deal?”

Beth Beglin


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