The Sunglass Hut Now Has a $54 Million Practice Facility
After Gary Barta made his first public address following the $6.5 million settlement with Tracey Griesbaum and Jane Meyer -- a press conference where Barta stressed his belief that his actions were correct and moral -- Des Moines Register Hawkeyes reporter and columnist Chad Leistikow avoided the question begged by Barta's defiance: If a jury of Iowans found his actions discriminatory and improper, how can Barta say that he did the right thing and acted in line with the values of the state and its flagship university?
It was a bit of a surprise, then, when the most aggressive attack on Barta's statements came from...the Des Moines Register?
Whatever yardstick one uses, it’s clear that anyone tasked with managing more than 200 full-time workers and a budget of $100 million should possess some base-level managerial skills. Among those would be the ability to prevent, or at least recognize, a hostile work environment and discriminatory employment practices.
By that one measure, Barta seems not just undeserving of a multi-million-dollar contract, but unqualified to manage anything bigger than a Sunglass Hut at the mall....
A jury of fellow Iowans concluded Barta presided over an athletics department infected by discrimination. If that’s the result of doing what he thinks is right, he’s failing not only to protect the department financially but also to uphold the basic decency Iowans expect of their public employees.
I suppose that's one way of putting it. And the DMR was as shocked by the fact that the "internal investigation" of employment practices announced immediately after the Meyer verdict has not yet begun:
It doesn’t help that on May 5, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld said the school was going to initiate an investigation into the UI’s employment practices, beginning with the athletic department. Today, more than two months later, that investigation has yet to be launched.
I know he's due almost $4 million on the contract negotiated by Sally Mason and signed by Bruce Harreld, and that the "investigation" could be evidence needed for a for-cause termination, but this is untenable, and Barta's defiance is both tone-deaf and dangerous to the University. And if Iowa insists on keeping him aboard and Barta insists that nothing more than tactics is going to change, the next discrimination allegation is just around the corner.
Big Ten, Little Games
It's the most wonderful time of the year: Big Ten Media Days kicked off yesterday (we'll have a separate post with Kirk Ferentz's comments later today). There were two big conference-wide announcements in Commissioner Delany's comments.
The Big Ten Conference’s ban on scheduling FCS competition is no longer a ban, a reversal that could open the possibility that Iowa could face Northern Iowa more often.
League commissioner Jim Delany said Monday that after further thought and a few years of observation, Big Ten teams that have four conference home games on their schedules will be permitted to add one FCS opponent in those years.
“When we went to nine games (on the conference schedule), we didn’t anticipate the problems that some of our schools would have when they only had four conference (home) games,” Delany said. “It was very difficult for them to get three FBS opponents.”
That one's for you, Iowa. The program's biggest issue for the foreseeable future was its non-conference schedule, which requires three home games in years where the Hawkeyes play five Big Ten road games. With FCS games banned from the schedule, that meant two big payouts to Group of 5 teams for home games to sandwich Iowa State. It was so bad that, initially, Gary Barta requested a waiver so that Iowa could continue its series against fierce traditional rival, UNI.
With FCS games back on the schedule in years where Iowa plays four Big Ten home games (years in which Iowa plays ISU at Kinnick), the costs of keeping seven home games on the schedule decrease significantly. It's likely that a September walk-over will be a million dollars less expensive, given where the non-conference payout market was headed. And with that change in place, it's increasingly likely that Iowa will avoid anything interesting in scheduling like a series at Soldier Field and Lambeau Field against Notre Dame.
If you haven't been paying attention to what happened at Ole Miss, a quick primer: A Mississippi State fan writing a book about Ole Miss corruption and an attorney representing former Rebels coach Houston Nutt in a defamation claim against his former employer received current Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze's phone records, reviewed the phone numbers Freeze called, and found a number of calls to an escort service. And Hugh Freeze is now the most recent former Ole Miss football coach, because a rabid fan of his in-state rival uncovered a big problem while "writing a book" about his program.
In the meantime, we're arguing about hashtags and farmer support with Iowa State. And lo, it was stupid.
I've said for years that the Mississippi rivalry is the Cy-Hawk of the South. The school profiles are nearly identical: Ole Miss prizes its literary tradition, built around William Faulkner, and its position in one of America's great college towns. Mississippi State is a land grant university with origins in agriculture whose fans resent Mississippi's status as the state's flagship school and finds the liberal arts-ness of Ole Miss to be largely bullshit. And the rest of the country lumps them both together under a general umbrella of flyover schools, academic tradition be damned.
Neither have been a traditional power in football, but Ole Miss has at least some history; Mississippi State's ascension to the top of the polls three seasons ago was an absurd anomaly on par with Iowa State's 2002 early-season run into the top 10. And while neither school has the basketball tradition of Iowa or ISU, their games are fierce.
So hey, watch Mississippi. Not only is it a fantastic story about the absurdity of college football and its fans, but it's a look into what could happen at any time here in Iowa. We're fighting over hashtags, people. We're only a phone bill away from more.
Odds & Ends
So this is interesting:
Under the terms of the agreement, Iowa could walk away at any point following the Big Ten's move to a nine-game schedule. It didn't do that, and it apparently didn't push the issue, meaning the political pressure to keep the series was greater than the potential gains from whatever Iowa was planning, and was enough to nullify any leverage Iowa had. Bummer.
Jim Delany confirmed the details of the Big Ten's six-year, $2.64 billion contracts with ESPN and Fox. Basically, the two networks will split their choice of games, though the details aren't exactly obvious at this point. And Delany is already moving on cord-cutting; BTN is headed to Hulu and YouTube this fall.
The next time Lee Corso puts on the buckeye head, know that he's been photographed in worse: