JANE MEYER VS. THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA: WEEK ONE

By Mike Jones on April 21, 2017 at 11:31 am
Barta

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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Trial continues today in Des Moines in Jane Meyer vs. The University of Iowa, and Gary Barta is expected to take the stand at some point this afternoon. Opening statements were briefly mentioned in the Intro piece, but here’s a summary of opening statements and testimony up to this point. Again, this is all thanks to Mark Emmert and Grant Rodgers of the Des Moines Register, who are covering this trial as vigorously as one could.

Tuesday:

Opening statements were given by both parties, and we’ve already discussed how Carroll dropped the bombshell that the Iowa Athletic Department had promoted Barbara Burke to deputy director of athletics. We also have an idea of Meyer’s theory of the case, as it was explicitly laid out in her petition and amended petition, which we discussed earlier this week. Basically, Meyer was the second most important person in the athletic department who was all but forced out by Gary Barta because he was uncomfortable with her being a gay woman.

As Mark Emmert wrote in his day one recap, the Defendants, through AAG Carroll had a different story:

Assistant Attorney General George Carroll, representing the university, countered that Meyer was a once-valuable employee who became insubordinate toward her boss, Gary Barta, after he fired field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, with whom Meyer has been romantically involved since 2004. ...

He said it was Meyer’s clashes with coaches, including Kirk Ferentz (football), Rick Heller (baseball) and Tom Brands (wrestling) that led to an uncomfortable work environment… ...

At the staff meeting at which Barta announced Griesbaum’s dismissal, Carroll said Meyer berated her boss in a manner that could have led to her being fired on the spot, since she was an at-will employee.

“This was open insubordination toward her boss,” Carroll said. “Gary had the full right to fire her on Aug. 4 with that outburst. He chose not to.” ...

“Mr. Barta did not care about her same-sex relationship. That’s a red herring in this case.”

The Defendant’s theory is clear: Meyer was insubordinate and became difficult to work with following Griesbaum’s firing and that her problematic attitude was why she was removed from the athletic department. Her being gay and in a relationship with Griesbaum had nothing to do with it.

Monica Nassif, an older sister of Meyer, testified about the effect the firing had on Meyer and Joseph Kearny, associate dean of the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, testified about Meyer’s competency and positive performance when she spent time across the river. Kevin Ward, the University of Iowa Vice President of Human Resources also testified that:

Wednesday:

Ward’s testimony continued Wednesday and when finished, Laura J. Burton of the University of Connecticut was called to testify as an expert witness. From her biography:

Her research interests include understanding leadership in organizations (particularly sport organizations) and exploring development, access and success in leadership. In her work, Laura focuses on issues of gender in leadership contexts and specifically how stereotypes and discrimination impact women in sport leadership.

Burton testified:

Meyer also took the stand on Wednesday and was given an opportunity to testify, under oath, about what she had experienced. Her testimony bled into Thursday and there was a great deal of content, but we’ll attempt to stick to the highlights. Per Grant Rodgers’s recap, Meyer testified of the many instances when she felt underminded by Barta. This included her being upset after Iowa rolled out Biff Poggi following the rhabdo incident, as she felt that it was her place to speak to the media (you may recall that Barta and Ferentz were out of town). Meyer also testified about her problematic relationship with Fred Mims, who previously served under her. From Rodgers’s piece:

Meyer recalled for jurors a situation in which she was overseeing the complex logistics of a football team trip to the Orange Bowl, which required organizing one trip for the football team, their families and administrators alongside another for cheerleaders, band members and other staff. Mims wanted to bring two additional staff members who were not planned to be on the trip, a violation of a university policy that required having names of travelers in advance, she said.

Meyer testified that Mims went to Barta, who ordered her to make the arrangements and get the two staffers on a flight. Then, Meyer was told that the extra staffers were no longer coming after she scrambled to get them on the charter flight less than 48 hours before it took off, she said.

"I'm trying to enforce a policy because that bowl was going to be audited, and I had to justify why those decisions were made," she said. "It just doesn't help when someone tells you to change a policy knowing it's going to be caught later."

And when Barta informed Meyer that he would be creating the new deputy director position back in 2013, he told her that she would not be considered because:

"He wanted someone who could better represent him," she recalled Barta telling her.

Thursday:

Meyer’s testimony continued on Thursday, and the highlights included her being informed that Kirk Ferentz no longer wanted to work with her. The reason?

Meyer also testified about Gene Taylor’s hiring and her observations of his “productivity”:

There was also this gem:

The remainder of Meyer’s testimony was in conformity with the allegations of her petition. Following Meyer, Donna Lopiano, a onetime administrator at UT Austin and gender equality expert, took the stand. She was hired by Meyer’s team to do a report on the case and she testified that:

You can read Lopiano's report here:

Lopiano Report by Mike Jones on Scribd

At the conclusion of Lapiano’s testimony, Meyer was recalled to the stand and gave testimony about her confronting Barta about Griesbaum’s firing.

Meyer also testified that it was around this time period, as she referenced in her petition, that she received her first negative performance review while at the University of Iowa. Thursday ended with Meyer continuing to be questioned by her attorney and at the time of this publication, she is still on the witness stand being cross-examined by the defense:

And most importantly, the plaintiff closed with:

(He meant Plaintiff, as in Meyer)

Barta is expected to testify at some point today, and it looks like it will be in the afternoon…if at all. We aren’t exactly sure what he’s going to say, but it’s likely that it will be in conformity with the affidavit that he gave below.

Barta Affidavit by Mike Jones on Scribd

It could be an eventful Friday afternoon. We'll see you back here on Tuesday with another update.

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