(The Center Square) – University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson said Thursday that the university’s athletics department would reimburse the state general fund for the $2 million it allocated as part of the $4.175 settlement against the university.
The State Appeal Board had voted 2-1 Monday to spend $2 million in state funding for the $4.175 million settlement with former Hawkeye football players, The Athletic reported.
“I appreciate the work and due diligence of the Iowa Attorney General and State Appeal Board,” Wilson said in a statement, The Daily Iowan reported. “After listening to the concerns of Iowans, and in consultation with Board of Regents leadership, I have determined that the University of Iowa Department of Athletics will reimburse the state general fund for the $2 million due to the recent settlement. I am deeply committed to our students’ success and well-being on and off the field of play.”
An Iowa House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee unanimously passed a bill, HSB 229, Thursday morning that would forbid higher education institutions from using state funds for an athletics settlement unless Iowa legislators specifically appropriated that funding. If state treasury monies are spent on a settlement regarding the conduct of an athletics employee at a Board of Regents-governed university, the university will reimburse the state treasury that amount by the end of the following fiscal year.
State Treasurer of Iowa Roby Smith said in a statement Thursday that prior to the State Appeals Board meeting Monday, he met with the Attorney General’s Office to learn more about the settlement terms.
“During that meeting, I was informed that the University of Iowa and Board of Regents refused to pay the full amount of the settlement, but was told voting ‘no’ on the proposed settlement would force the case to trial and open Iowa taxpayers up to millions more in potential future liabilities,” Smith said.
He said that he applauds Wilson and the Board of Regents for requiring the University of Iowa Athletic Department to cover costs related to the settlement.
Still, he wants Wilson to re-examine the University’s relationship with UI Athletics Director Gary Barta.
“Additionally, to protect Iowa taxpayers from ever being in this situation again, I am calling on the Iowa Legislature to continue moving House Study Bill 229 through the legislative process and to consider expanding the scope of the bill to include all claims involving the Regents Institutions,” he said.
Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand, who voted against the settlement, had asked the other two State Appeal Board members to join him voting against it in a March 3 memo that The Center Square received.
Sand said in the memo that he wouldn’t support taxpayers funding the settlement unless Barta is no longer at the University and forfeits severance pay.
Iowa Athletics doesn’t receive taxpayer support or funding from students’ tuition, Associate Athletics Director and Communications Director Steve Roe told The Center Square Thursday.