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March 8, 2016 — The Greisbaum (et. al.) suit begins

Yesterday, in Polk County District Court, a 26-page lawsuit was filed in the matter of the 2014 firing of Tracey Greisbaum as head field hockey coach at the University of Iowa.

For the last year and a half, the university and Greisbaum’s defense team have tipped their hands a bit as to what their strategies would be. The lawsuit doesn’t say much that hasn’t already been alleged: to wit, that the Iowa athletics department has been on a decade-long crusade in firing female coaches, especially those in same-sex relationships, while allowing male coaches in revenue sports to remain in their particular positions despite allegations of bullying and abusive behavior.

“I cannot think of any example in the past two decades where a male coach was fired after being exonerated,” said Griesbaum said in a prepared statement yesterday. “The only logical conclusion is that there is something more sinister going on, and that something more is gender bias and continued inequality for female coaches and athletes.”

All of this has come at a time when Gene Barta, the Iowa athletic director, has not only received an award for being A.D. of the Year from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, but has also signed a recent and very substantial contract extension.

But Iowa’s carefully crafted narrative is going to be put to the test next month, as the campus is going to be visited by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. One very glaring inequality that the OCR may want to investigate was pointed out by The Cedar Rapids Gazette over the weekend: the padding of the women’s crew team in order to create gender balance at the school.

We don’t know when the suit will be heard, or in which court. But it’s pretty clear that, when looking at the totality of Iowa’s behavior since Barta’s hiring in 2006, the verdict should be obvious.

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