The people vs Gary Barta

Why is Iowa going to such lengths to protect...this guy?

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That’s a big story, since the settlement involved Iowa’s flagship athletic program, but it isn’t a novel one. After all, this is the fourth discrimination lawsuit against Iowa’s athletic department since 2006 that the university has decided to settle. The three previous cases added up to settlements of over $7 million, and this case includes a settlement of over $4 million dollars. Even in college athletics, that’s a lot of money.

What makes this particular case unique is that Iowa’s taxpayers are directly on the hook for $2 million of that settlement. That arrangement has attracted the ire of multiple Iowa politicians.

Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand, an Iowa law school graduate and self-professed Hawkeye fan, said that he would only approve the payout if Iowa athletic director Gary Barta left.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Sand said that he fully expected the other two members of the Iowa Appeal’s Board to vote with him. Instead, the measure passed over his objections, 2-1. The other members of the board reportedly felt uncomfortable with specifically singling out Barta.

“I feel like I’m taking crazy pills,” Sand says. “I’m literally sitting here in my living room, petting my dog, wondering if the whole world has gone crazy.”

State Treasurer Robby Smith, one of the members who voted to approve the deal, did say the following to HawkCentral:

Smith said he “would encourage the university to reexamine the relationship with not only Gary Barta but (offensive coordinator) Brian Ferentz and others named in recent lawsuits.”

Maybe Iowa’s State Treasurer or Iowa’s Director of the Department of Revenue are uncomfortable taking shots at the school’s athletic director. But other politicians in the state are apparently comfortable.

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