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Wednesday Scrambler: Checking in on the Jane Meyer Trial

And we’re off!

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Northwestern v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Hello, happy Wednesday, the week’s over!

We’re starting today with an update on the high-profile Polk County lawsuit involving the University of Iowa and former senior athletics department official Jane Meyer. Overreaction Monday took a prep look at the case on, well, Monday in case you missed it. The DI has a killer timeline of events if you’d like some more detail.

What a doozy of a first day it was!

Per the Register’s Mark Emmert and the Gazette’s Erin Jordan, the eight-person/two alternate jury heard conflicting opening arguments in the case. One side — led by Meyer attorney Thomas Newkirk — alleged his client’s unjust treatment due to her gender and sexual orientation. The other, spearheaded by Assistant Iowa Attorney General George Carroll, argued that Meyer was insubordinate towards Barta following the termination of her partner and former field hockey head coach Tracey Griesbaum.

I don’t see much reason to paraphrase here, so let’s get to the important stuff from each side.

Meyer’s counsel’s case in a nutshell:

She is suing the university for discrimination based on her gender and sexual orientation, for retaliation after she complained about gender disparities in the athletic department, and for being paid $70,000-per-year less than a male employee who took over some of her duties in June 2014.

Carroll, arguing for the UI, on the contrary:

While Ms. Meyer did an outstanding job in many areas, over time issues arose with her communications style and issues with others — essentially with coaches over facilities,

The opening arguments from each side presented points based off the above — Meyer aims to back her gender bias claims in the salary difference between her and recently-departed Gene Taylor’s earnings for what her camp claims as similar responsibilities. Newkirk’s argument highlights favorable performance reviews from former AD Bob Bowlsby and a testimony from Joseph Kearney, associate dean of the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Meyer was reassigned to that department from her place in athletics.

The biggest takeaway from Carroll’s argument was the alleged insubordination on Meyer’s part, saying she could have been fired on the spot for her actions in the August 4, 2014 meeting when Griesbaum’s termination was announced. Carroll called Meyer and Griesbaum’s relationship a “red herring” in the case. The most notable of those ‘others’ mentioned in the above quote are Kirk Ferentz and Tom Brands. Both had complaints related to donations for facilities improvements. Ferentz and Brands are expected to be called to the witness stand in this case.

Another item of note from Gannett’s coverage — Newkirk pressed assistant UI Human Resources VP Kevin Ward, who admitted “Meyer was neither reassigned nor fired because of her work skills.”

We encourage you to read as much as you can on this, and will be keeping you up to date with the big happenings from the trial. Ward’s testimony will continue Wednesday morning. Meyer is scheduled to testify Wednesday, followed by Barta Thursday.

In what we’ll call a, uh, curiously-timed move, the UI announced Barbara Burke as the new deputy athletic director, taking Taylor’s place as he moves on to take Kansas State’s AD role.

And by the UI we mean Carroll. Yes, Carroll announced this during his opening statement Tuesday. A release confirmed it after the fact.

This is going to be a complete joy, no?

Why not keep with the Des Moines theme before moving to the scarcity of Hawkeye teams on the field? That’s right, Iowa’s capital city is hosting the first and second rounds of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Hoops Tournament. After such praise for the city and Wells Fargo Arena during and after the 2016 tournament, this is hardly a surprise. Hopefully the wifi is up to snuff by then — our sportswriter friends’ blood pressure thanks WFA in advance.

For those keeping score at home, Iowa’s squad should be pretty, pretty, pretty good the season after next. FoxSports did a breakdown of the potential roster way back in December, and as new daddio JPinIC noted in the BHGP Slack Tuesday afternoon, Drake is the host school.

Yes, that means Fran McCaffery and Company may draw a pair of games at the 80/35 crossroads.

Let’s discuss. How much would you enjoy Jordan Bohannon, Isiah Moss, Connor McCaffery, Tyler Cook, Luka Garza, Nic Baer, Cordell Pemsl and Ahmad Wagner getting to the Sweet 16 just a short drive from Iowa City?

I lied! No on-field Hawkeye news this week — we’re staying outside the lines! Wells Fargo will not host the NCAA Wrestling Championships in the near future, but four other sites will. 2019 will be at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, 2020 in US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, 2021 back at St. Louis’ Scottrade Center, and 2022 at Little Ceasers Arena in Detroit.

Pittsburgh should be awesome. Visions of Spencer Lee and Michael Kemerer leading the way for a Hawkeye National Championship in their home state are running wild.

Minneapolis should be great too. Remember the last time the Hawkeyes competed in a football stadium?