Iowa releases job reassignment for ex-associate AD
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) A top University of Iowa athletic administrator has been reassigned to the school's construction staff amid the threat of a wrongful termination lawsuit by her partner, the school said Thursday.
Jane Meyer, a senior associate athletic director since 2001, will start in the facilities management office next week. She will assist with contract quality and project compliance during a campus building boom, which comes as a result of ongoing rebuilding from a devastating 2008 flood.
Athletic director Gary Barta announced last week that Meyer would be reassigned out of athletics because the school faces a potential lawsuit by her partner, fired women's field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum.
Barta said that keeping Meyer in the department's leadership presented challenges as the school prepared to defend against Griesbaum's claims of bias against gay, female coaches. The reassignment came at the advice of legal counsel and will last until the issue is resolved, he said.
Griesbaum's attorney, Tom Newkirk, has said that Meyer's transfer, which doesn't affect her $173,000 annual salary, amounts to illegal retaliation. The move pressures Griesbaum to either drop her potential legal claims or derail her partner's career in athletics, he said this week.
Barta fired Griesbaum in August, citing concerns about an atmosphere of fear in the program. Griesbaum has denied wrongdoing and blamed a few disgruntled former players and parents for spreading false accusations of mistreatment.
Griesbaum has not filed a lawsuit but her attorney has asked the school to reinstate her and to investigate claims that Barta has treated female coaches differently than male coaches. The school has rejected those requests, a stance that could lead Griesbaum to file a civil rights complaint and begin what could be lengthy litigation.
University president Sally Mason on Thursday told the Presidential Committee on Athletics, a university advisory group, that she continued to support Barta's decision to fire Griesbaum. She did not address Meyer's reassignment.
The school said in a press release that Meyer's new job was a fit given that she had helped oversee several major construction projects in athletics, including a major Kinnick Stadium renovation.
Griesbaum and Meyer recently confirmed that they have been in a longstanding relationship that they did not formally disclose to the university. A school investigation found the relationship was not prohibited by policy, but Mason recently told the Des Moines Register that she was concerned it created a potential conflict that wasn't managed.
The university said that athletic official Paula Jantz would replace Meyer as the department's chief administrator in charge of equity for women's programs, and her other duties would be spread out among different employees.