Last time we spoke about the trial I said that we’d catch up on Tuesday. Well, as Gary Barta’s testimony continued all day through Friday, Monday, Tuesday and is currently ongoing with little to no new information discerned, it was continued until this afternoon. Here are some updates from Grant Rodgers, Chad Leistikow and Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register/Press-Citizen, Jeremiah Davis of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Blake Dowson of The Daily Iowan, who all deserve a follow on Twitter (and deserve to have their pieces read).
On Monday a great deal of questioning was dedicated to Tracey Griesbaum and her relationship with Meyer.
Notes confirm Barta first heard of Meyer/Griesbaum romantic relationship what he called a "rumor" from faculty rep Betsy Altmaier in 2011.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) April 24, 2017
Coincidentally, this is also when Barta’s relationship started to sour with Meyer. If you hadn’t realized by now, timelines are extremely important in this case. Barta wrote in his affidavit, which I provided last week, that he didn’t find out about Griesbaum’s relationship with Meyer until October 30th, 2014. But, apparently, there are actual handwritten notes from him or someone in his office that he had heard about the relationship as early as 2011. Again, coincidentally, this is when things started to sour between him and Meyer.
Barta can minimize this by playing the 2011 information off as just a rumor and that he didn’t officially know until 2014, but I’m hard pressed to believe that the most powerful person in the Iowa athletic department didn’t take further measures to determine whether or not the head coach of one of Iowa’s most decorated programs and the #2 in his department were actually in a relationship. Other highlights:
Where Barta says he departed in firing Griesbaum vs. keeping Doyle after rhabdo, FB coaches said they'd change; Griesbaum said she wouldn't.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) April 24, 2017
Among accusations, Griesbaum told FH athlete who was gay & had hair falling out & was in counseling: “If I were you, I would kill myself.”— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) April 24, 2017
This line of “If I were you, I would kill myself” will be one you can expect to hear a lot of in both trials. This is one of the more prominent lines in a memo from Josey Bathke, (then) Director of the University Employee and Labor Relations and Tiffini Stevenson Earl, Compliance Specialist and ADA Coordinator, to Gary Barta, involving the review of the field hockey program.
This memo was dated August 1st, 2014, and will likely be a key piece of evidence in Griesbaum’s trial. It includes the “kill myself” line as an example of “mistreatment reported by SAs (student athletes) but denied by Coach Griesbaum and unsubstantiated by other SAs…”
The conclusion/findings of the report was that:
Bathke and Stevenson Earl considered all available Information and reviewed the totality of circumstances and concluded that there was Insufficient evidence presented to substantiate a violation of university policy; however, Bathke and Stevenson Earl have serious concerns about the communication within the Field Hockey Program, the perceptions of some SAs of program requirements/written and unwritten rules and the head coach, and the relationships between some SAs and the head coach.
The evidence indicates that the 2013 meeting with the seniors, prior to the Big 10 Tournament, was an Isolated Incident and does not rise to the level of a policy violation; however, the unprofessionalism demonstrated by the coaches Is highly Inappropriate and concerning given their leadership roles In the FH program. Even though the evidence does not rise to the level of a policy violation related to harassment, It Is very concerning that several SAs consistently described a team environment of fear, Intimidation, and/or mistreatment by Coach Griesbaum and that several SAs indicated they felt pressured to play injured.
The evidence also Indicates that there was no prohibited relationship between. Coach Griesbaum and an Athletics' administrator…
The last line should stick out, as that administrator is obviously Jane Meyer. The full memo is here:
Barta’s testimony continued on Tuesday, along with a few expert witnesses, and said:
5. Barta did not make Meyer point person on rhabdo situation because he didn't trust her and felt Paul Federici was better qualified— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 25, 2017
Said many coaches thanked him for reassigning Meyer, telling him: 'I'm so glad this air has been cleared now.'— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 25, 2017
Barta said he will pay Barbara Burke the same $265k salary Taylor was making as deputy. Said timing of that announcement coincidental— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 25, 2017
On redirect, Meyer attorney pressed Barta about whether he ever documented any complaint against Meyer. It was all verbal, he said— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 25, 2017
So, a few things. First off, assuming some coaches will be called to testify, Barta better hope that they substantiate the claim that they were thankful about Meyer being reassigned. Yes, it’s also “coincidental” that Barbara Burke will be getting paid as much as Gene Taylor.
The final tweet is the most striking, as Barta had to have known that one day there was probably going to be problems with the firing of Griesbaum or the reassignment of Meyer. Yet he kept zero documentation about the fact that she was so problematic? It was all verbal? All of it? I’m not saying he’s lying. I’m just saying that’s incredibly poor practice for someone in that position to not have any documentation in that situation. Poor practice, or incompetence. Either or.
This morning, former Vice President of Human Relations Susan Buckley took the stand and said:
Former VP of HR Susan Buckley confirmed that she told Meyer in 2012 there was no conflict of interest in her relationship with Griesbaum— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 26, 2017
Barta was then called back to the stand, and testified that he was shown 27 alleged incidents of verbal abuse and 28 alleged instances of mental abuse from anonymous athletic exit surveys in 2013-14. This is all athletes, not just field hockey. Despite this:
Barta said he never investigated, noting he wouldn't have known who made which claims. Said he investigated when complaints came to him— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 26, 2017
Apparently, he met with three field hockey players after Giesbaum was fired as they were concerned that male and female coaches were being treated differently.
Those same players later wrote a letter to then-UIowa president Sally Mason with same question, saying Barta was unresponsive— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) April 26, 2017
I understand that the exit surveys were anonymous but was there really nothing the athletic department could do to investigate alleged instances of abuse? If not, fine. But I’d like to know a little more on the process and how anonymous we’re talking about here.
Barta’s testimony is finally expected to conclude this afternoon and Lisa Bluder should then take the stand. There is little information publicly available on what Bluder will be expected to testify to but if I had to guess it would be about her personal knowledge of incidents of abuse in her program, or lack thereof, and her relationship with Meyer and whether or not there were any personal conflicts and the treatment of her and her colleagues by the University of Iowa. This is a civil trial so plenty of other information could be elicited but I feel like that’s most likely to be testified to by Coach Bluder.
This was anticipated to be a three-day trial but with how things are going, it could go longer. See you on Friday.