After 12 days of trial in Des Moines, a jury of five women and three men will begin deliberations following Wednesday’s closing arguments in the Jane Meyer trial.
We’d love to give you a prediction on the jury’s decision — hopefully that’ll come our way by Friday — but truth be told, your guess is probably just as good as any you’ll find in this blog. As you’d expect, there have been wildly varying testimonies from Meyer and the Iowa Athletics Department regarding her civil rights and unequal pay complaints. Both testimonies have been strong, but each side’s been able to chink the opposition’s armor in one form or another.
The brut of Meyer’s testimony focused on her qualifications and track record as Iowa’s No. 2 ranking athletics official. The biggest moments in her favor came from the praises of former AD and current Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby’s performance reviews, as well as a humanizing account from her partner and former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum detailing Meyer’s post-Iowa life. She will also benefit from testimony that AD Gary Barta changed her performance reviews, eliminating her positive marks and keeping the bad.
Barta testified ad nauseam following Meyer’s time on the stand, describing her alleged unruly behavior and ‘insubordinance’ during the latter part of her career. He seemed to score points through validation from a number of Hawkeye coaches and officials, including Kirk Ferentz, Tom Brands, and Rick Heller. As you’d expect, the majority of people that roll up to him in the university structure testified in his favor. Former deputy AD Gene Taylor told the court room Barta is “not an over-reactor.” Ferentz nodded in approval, probably.
Barta and the UI took perhaps its biggest hit by failing to produce any written complaints detailing Meyer’s behavior, and scored a big victory Tuesday when Liz Hollingsworth, the chairwoman of Iowa’s Presidential Committee on Athletics, testified that Meyer pushed for field-hockey facilities upgrades more than other non-revenue sports. Hollingsworth later found out about Meyer and Griesbaum’s relationship, saying she “was very confused. It made a few things make sense. I was surprised I hadn’t been told.”
There you have it. Again, your guess on what the verdict will be here is as good as ours. Testimonies seem fairly even both ways — there was a surprising lack of written evidence from Meyer and the UI, so the jury will be making its decision largely on a ‘he said-she said’ basis.
That jury has six hours to come to a unanimous decision following closing arguments, and will have to make a 7-1 verdict past that time mark. If they can’t come to a conclusion, it will be a hung jury and we’ll go from there.
As you’ve heard from the beginning, this has not been a good look for the University of Iowa. Anytime high-ranking officials and coaches to are called to the stand in a gender-bias claim, it’s a black eye to the institution and its leaders. The verdict will decide how long that bruise lingers.