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The University of Iowa will pay the full amount of a legal settlement that ended a racial bias suit filed by former members of the university’s football team.
The university’s president announced Thursday that the payment would be made after an uproar among state lawmakers over an earlier plan to use taxpayer funds to cover $2 million of the $4.2 million settlement, The Des Moines Register reported.
“After listening to the concerns of Iowans and in consultation with the Board of Regents leadership, I have determined the University of Iowa Department of Athletics will reimburse the state general fund for the $2 million due to the recent settlement,” President Barbara Wilson said in a statement.
Lawmakers and the state’s auditor have been critical of the university’s athletic director, Gary Barta, among others. A legislative subcommittee meeting held Thursday morning included discussion of a bill requiring athletic departments at universities overseen by the state’s regents to repay the state for unbudgeted legal settlement costs. A lobbyist read Wilson’s statement during the meeting.
“I am delighted that she listened to the outcry from taxpayers who wanted real accountability,” Rob Sand, the state’s auditor, told the Register.
University officials admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The former football players, who are Black, filed their lawsuit in 2020. They alleged the use of racial slurs as well as being required to abandon hairstyles and other aspects of their culture to fit in with what the lawsuit called the “Iowa Way” under Coach Kirk Ferentz, and that they were retaliated against after speaking out.