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Iowa, Gary Barta about to face real problems in alleged gender discrimination probe

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The University of Iowa athletic department has had a cloud of gender discrimination allegations hanging over its head for the better part of two years now. However, those were just allegations and not legal ones at that.

With the Associate Press reporting on Friday that the feds are engaging in a wide-ranging civil rights investigation things are about to get as real as possible. At the heart of the matters are allegations of unfair treatment of women to that of their male counterparts within the athletic department.

The biggest allegation is that strong female voices within the administration and coaching ranks are often times silenced by firings and/or demotions. Instead of strong leadership and question, Iowa seems to prefer its women to shut up and do as they are told — at least that is what has been alleged since the strange firing of long-tim field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum in August of 2014.

Griesbaum was fired just two weeks before the season amidst allegations of player mistreatment against her. The timing was odd, as were the allegations against her to say the least.

Since then, Griesbaum, one of the most successful field hockey coaches in the country at the time of her firing, had filed a state civil rights complaint against the University of Iowa. All of it after allegations and hopes of internal investigations were exhausted.

“We are at this point because we have exhausted efforts to get the university to investigate and remedy this without a lawsuit,” Newkirk, a Des Moines-based civil rights lawyer, said in an email.

Athletic director Gary Barta has not been fired nor has the university opened an investigation itself to this date. Instead, it chose to let the state justice department handle the investigating for them.

Making matters worse is the fact that Griesbaum’s long-time partner, Jane Meyer, was subsequently demoted from Associate A.D. to a reassigned position within the athletic department.

Former field hockey players and even those on the roster during the 2015 season also filed complaints of Title IX violations against the athletic department in relation to the firing of Griesbaum.

There is also the matter of four other female coaches who were fired over a five-year period prior to Griesbaum’s dismissal — all under curious circumstances. All of them which Meyer alleges were because of strong voices standing up for female athletes within the department.

“I had been raising these issues with Gary Barta for years before, so it was the culmination of things,” Meyer said. “You step back, and if you start looking and connecting some of the dots, it’s very clear that strong women are not welcome in the department.”

Meyer, the top-ranking female within Iowa athletics, raised the issues with Barta and found herself reassigned to the facilities development team in a matter of a few weeks.

“I saw the types and culminations of decisions under Gary Barta that I thought were very negative for our women’s programs, our female student-athletes and our female coaches,” Meyer said at the time. “And I spoke out about it. And when I spoke out, I was reassigned.

“I just wanted to make sure, as I have since the day I was hired, that the decisions we made on a daily basis and from a planning perspective were in the best interest of making sure all student-athletes were in a position to thrive. I don’t believe that culture and environment is what’s happening at the University of Iowa.”

What could Iowa and Barta be facing given this investigation? There could be fines, additions of women’s sports and an increased role for the federal government to play in forcing changes to policies and actions by the athletic department.

It all seems to center around decisions made by Barta, and perhaps the biggest question is if he survives all of this in the end. He’s managed to skate by so far and we’ll see what comes of what could be a laborious and drawn-out process here.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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Hawkeyes Football

Predicting the 2018 Iowa Hawkeyes season

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There’s nothing worse than pundits who put out season record predictions and then can never tell you other than in generalities how they got there. 

It’s why every season we go game-by-game with you through each and every one of the Big Ten teams. Up today are the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are looking to upend bitter rival Wisconsin for the second time in three years. 

How does that hope play out in reality? Well, here’s how our Publisher, Andrew Coppens, sees it happening: 

Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button on our YouTube page! You don’t want to miss the rest in this series and our video work all throughout the 2018 Big Ten football season. 

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Basketball

Big Ten Basketball 2018-19 Sneak Peak: Iowa Hawkeyes edition

Iowa is looking to get its mojo back after a 13th place finish in the Big Ten this past season. What is the outlook for McCaferry’s squad?

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While a few teams look ahead to another weekend of college basketball around the Big Ten, the majority are left to prepare for an entirely new season ahead. That’s actually the case for 11 of the 14 teams across the B1G already.

So, why not follow suit and begin to wonder what the 2018-19 season holds for those teams not playing anymore?

Previous Sneak Peak’s: Rutgers |

Up next is a look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, who are certainly hoping to be fighting for a NCAA tourney berth and not to just stay off the bottom of the Big Ten.

Reason to be Optimistic: The Best Bohannon

Fans across the Big Ten are readily familiar with the last name Bohannon, having seen both Jason and Zach play for the Wisconsin Badgers over the last decade or so. However, it is the Iowa Hawkeyes who have the best of the three brothers in the fold.

Jordan proved that in a big way in 2017-18 — averaging 13.5 points, 5.4 assists, while also shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc. That’s what you want from your point guard if you’re Fran McCaffery, and Jordan is moving in to his third season leading this offense.

If that isn’t a reason to be optimistic, I don’t know what is.

Reason to Worry: Bohannon or Bust Still

As great as Bohannon was this past season, he was a one-man show for the Hawkeyes and it ended in disaster. Next season doesn’t seem to be much different for Iowa, as Bohannon has literally no help at all at point guard, especially with the fall of Brady Ellingson and his announced transfer from the program.

Things could get even more interesting with the news that fellow sophomore, Tyler Cook, is exploring the NBA Draft process.

It’s an interesting move from a team perspective, but the 6-9 forward was much better individually in 2017-18 than he was in his freshman season. My money is on him coming back for his junior season, but this team is built around perimeter play opening things up for inside success, and that still means as Bohannon goes, so goes this team..until we’re proven otherwise.

Player to Watch: Luka Garza

As far as freshman seasons go, Garza had himself a pretty good one. He averaged 12.1 points and 6.4 rebounds, while shooting 55.7 percent from the field. Yet, Garza was left off the Coaches All-Freshman team at season’s end.

Despite the big numbers, Garza had an up and down season overall. He started just 26 of 33 games and was in and out of the starting lineup.

If Iowa can count on him to be more of a consistent presence in the lineup then this team is very different heading in to 2018-19. A bit more work in the weight room and on his outside shot should go a long way.

Incoming Help:

Iowa made a huge move in getting the in-state signature of 2018 Iowa Mr. Basketball, Joe Wieskamp. Not only was he an in-state star, he was a national star too. Wieskamp is the No. 9 ranked shooting guard in the country and could be immediate help for Bohannon in the backcourt.

Fellow shooting guard C.J. Fredrick comes out of another talent-rich state in Kentucky. He also knows how to win, leading his Covington Catholic squad to a Kentucky state title this year.

This pair of shooting guards should help Iowa be able to stretch the court for a few years to come.

Overall Outlook:

A look at the stat sheet and one has to wonder how the Iowa Hawkeyes of 2017-18 were as bad as they were. Four players averaged double figures and all but one is a sure-thing to come back to the program in 2018-19, while this team had success shooting inside and out too.

But, then you look at the defensive numbers and realize this team was built to have to outscore opponents, not stop them on the defensive end and it becomes easy to see how they finished 13th in the B1G. The good news is that this was an extremely young team, starting not a single player that was older than a sophomore.

Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook are good places for any team to start from, but I’m looking for more from Cook and soon-to-be sophomore Luka Garza on the defensive end to help this team make a rapid rise. The talent is certainly there for this group to be much better next season, but there will need to be a re-commitment to playing defense if the Hawkeyes want to be in the NCAA tourney mix in 2019.

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Hawkeyes Football

An early look at the 2018 Iowa Hawkeyes defense

Iowa faces another big transition, but this time it is on the defensive side of the ball. What does 2018 look like for the Hawkeyes defense.

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Kirk Ferentz returns as the dean of Big Ten coaches heading in to 2018, and that means the well-oiled machine that is the Iowa Hawkeyes program won’t be changing it m.o. much.

But, coming off a second mediocre season after a Big Ten title game appearance, what will 2018 bring for the Hawkeyes? Will it be a rise to the top of the West division or will they struggle against rising rivals like Minnesota and Wisconsin again?

We began to dive in to the Hawkeyes with a look at the 2018 offense, next up is a look at the other side of the ball.

Biggest Question Mark:

Can Iowa replace all of its starting linebackers?

One look at the depth chart at the end of the 2017 season shows the easy answer to the biggest question — Iowa losses all three end of season starting linebackers. Ben Niemann, Josey Jewell and Bo Bower are all gone from a tough Iowa defense in 2017.

Not only is that trio gone, but they have been at the core of this defense for a few years now. The trio combined for 305 tackles, 23.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, while also being the team’s top three tacklers on the year. Talk about tough acts to follow?

More worrisome is that there wasn’t a lot of production from the understudies this season. Amani Jones is the leading returning tackler at linebacker, and he had all of eight of them this season, same for potential starter at middle linebacker Kristian Welch. Are those two capable of stepping up? It’s a serious question to ask this offseason. But, neither are guaranteed starting minutes either.

No matter who ends up filling their shoes, it is going to be a tough act to follow in 2018. Do the Hawkeyes have the parts to get the job done in a defense that needs its linebackers to be assignment sure and tough?

Reason to Be Optimistic:

A veteran defensive line

While the linebacking group got a lot of attention in 2017, the performance of Iowa’s d-line was equally impressive and almost all of it will be returning in 2018. Three of the top four players on the tackles for loss list were defensive linemen in 2017 and only Nathan Bazata and his 6.5 tackles for loss are gone.

Parker Hesse and Anthony Nelson are great building blocks, but freshman A.J. Epenesa could be the real star of this group. He started off his career at Iowa with just 15 tackles in 13 games, but he also managed to rack up 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in that same time frame. He may have a hard time cracking the starting lineup with Hesse and Nelson entrenched at the end positions, but it is a nice problem to have compared to what is happening behind them.

There will be an interesting competition between former backup defensive tackles Brady Reiff and Cedrick Lattimore in replacing Bazata as a starter in 2018. Both had good years in backup roles, again a nice problem to have.

When you are reloading or rebuilding at linebacker, it certainly helps to have the guys in front of them capable of picking up some slack, and that’s what Iowa has in its defensive line for 2018.

Reason to be Pessimistic:

No Josey Jewell

While the early loss of cornerback Joshua Jackson the NFL draft isn’t ideal, Iowa has shown it can overcome the loss of elite secondary players before. Desmond King was great, but Iowa hardly missed a beat once he graduated and Jackson had a lot to do with that. We’ve already talked about the loss of all three starting linebackers, but only one of them stands above the crowd and his name is Josey Jewell.

He was the heart and soul of the Hawkeyes defense for the past two seasons and the quintessential Hawkeye of this generation. Just how important was Jewell to the Iowa program? Try replacing 433 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 6 interceptions and 26 passes defensed for one’s career.

That alone would be enough, but Jewell was an invaluable leader too. Where the leadership comes from is almost as important as the raw production, and with all the transition happening at linebacker heading in to 2018 that loss of leadership is going to be huge. If the Hawkeyes don’t find the kind of leadership Jewell provided there could be trouble for the Hawkeyes in a suddenly improving West division.

Projected Starting Lineup:

DE: Anthony Nelson, Jr.
DT: Matt Nelson, Sr.
DT: Cedrick Lattimore, Jr.
DE: Parker Hesse, Sr.
OLB: Aaron Mends, Sr.
MLB: Kristian Welch, Jr.
OLB: Amani Jones, So.
CB: Michael Ojemudia, Jr.
FS: Jake Gervase, Sr.
SS: Amani Hooker, Jr.
CB: Matt Hankins, So.

Overall Outlook:

It will be very interesting to see how the Hawkeyes regroup from the loss of all three starting linebackers and half of its starting secondary. Luckily, Iowa has shown a history of being able to build talent behind the scenes and when it comes their turn they show up.

However, this season feels a bit different, especially at linebacker. The backups played sparingly and are very young overall. This offseason is going to be key to their development, but I’m not sold they have the immediate answers there and that has always been a bad sign during the Ferentz era.

We’ll see if the line can hold this group up while people are learning on the job behind them. But, keep a keen eye on the development at linebacker and safety this offseason. If there are questions still left following spring ball, this could be a classic case of the third year following a big season slide from Ferentz-led Hawkeye programs.

This offseason will test the plug-and-play mantra unlike just about any in the Ferentz era that I can personally remember.

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Hawkeyes Football

An early look at the 2018 Iowa Hawkeyes offense

Iowa’s offense loses a key piece to the puzzle in 2018, but can returning players pick up the slack and lead Hawkeyes back to top of West division?

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Kirk Ferentz returns as the dean of Big Ten coaches heading in to 2018, and that means the well-oiled machine that is the Iowa Hawkeyes program won’t be changing it m.o. much.

But, coming off a second mediocre season after a Big Ten title game appearance, what will 2018 bring for the Hawkeyes? Will it be a rise to the top of the West division or will they struggle against rising rivals like Minnesota and Wisconsin again?

We begin to dive in to the Hawkeyes with a look at the 2018 offense

Biggest Question Mark:

Where’s the star power?

Iowa may never be accused of being a sexy program, especially on offense, but that doesn’t mean the Hawkeyes haven’t had their fair share of stars in the past.

Maybe that person is Noah Fant? The Hawkeyes tight end did lead his position group in touchdown receptions with 11 on the season. But, he won’t sneak up on anyone in 2018 and he had 30 receptions for 494 yards to go with those 11 touchdowns. But, how sexy is the tight end position if you aren’t winning divisions and conference titles?

Maybe the answer is Nate Stanley? He did have 26 touchdown passes in 2017. On the flip side, the first-year starter also barely completed over 55 percent of his passes.

Maybe the answer is Ivory Kelly-Martin, who led the team in rushing average at 9.2 yards per carry? Then again, that was his freshman season and most of his 20 carries came in complete garbage time.

I think you get the point here. Where is the star that will take Iowa back to a division title and a trip to Indianapolis? Finding an answer or two to the star-power question will go a long way towards making that division title possible. I just don’t know who that person really is going to be.

Reason to Be Optimistic:

Nate Stanley has the tools to be great

Whenever you transition from a long-time starter to someone new, things can be difficult for an offense. The good news in 2017 was that first-time starter Nate Stanley didn’t show any signs of being overwhelmed by being the starting quarterback for the first time.

He did enough to nearly help his team upset Penn State and was the reason for Iowa dominating Ohio State in the biggest upset in the Big Ten in 2017. Stanley ended the year completing just 55.8 percent of his passes for 2,437 yards — which won’t jump off the page at you — but he had a healthy 26 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

That last part of the stat line is the good news. So is the fact that he completed 63.5 percent of his passes for an average of 256 yards per game and 12 touchdowns against zero interceptions versus Iowa State, Penn State and Ohio State.

Sure, there were inconsistencies too (see that horrible Wisconsin game). But, how much of that was on him and how much of that was on a group of receivers and tight ends that most diehard fans around the Big Ten couldn’t name? In the end, Stanley showed that he was up to the task of filling C.J. Beathard’s big shoes.

Take the lessons learned from 2017 and build on it in 2018 and Stanley has the potential to be the best quarterback in the West division. That should be a good place for the Hawkeyes of 2018 start.

Reason to be Pessimistic:

Akrum Wadley isn’t around anymore

Iowa, much like its counterparts at Nebraska and Wisconsin, is always at its best when it has a dynamic running back and a dominating offensive line. One could say the offensive line wasn’t up to par in 2017, but they did have that dynamic running back in Akrum Wadley.

He finished last season with 1,109 yards and 10 touchdowns. That accounted for 61.2 percent of Iowa’s rushing total and 10 of the 17 rushing touchdowns this team had in 2017.

That’s a lot of production to lose, and then you add in the graduation of the second-leading rusher, James Butler, and you are left with a lot of question marks at a vital position group. Toren Young could be a good option, but as a redshirt freshman Young managed just 193 yards on 45 carries in seven games of action. There is fellow youngster Ivory Kelly-Martin to look at too, as he had 184 yards on just 20 carries.

I’m not saying there isn’t potential here, but there’s a big difference between beating up on the backups of non-conference opponents and the pounding of a Big Ten season. Can Young and Kelly-Martin parlay good experience in backup roles in to consistent production when they are the only ones that can be counted on?

Projected Starting Lineup:

QB: Nate Stanley, Jr.
RB: Toren Young, So.
FB: Brady Ross, Jr.
WR: Nick Easley, Sr.
WR: Brandon Smith, So.
TE: Noah Fant, Jr.
LT: Alaric Jackson, So.
LG: Keegan Render, Sr.
C: James Daniels, Sr.
RG: Levin Paulson, Jr.
RT: Tristan Wirfs, So.

Overall Outlook

The 2018 offense is hard to read for the Hawkeyes. On the one hand it has some really nice parts to it, on the other hand are those parts better than what the competition in the West division has? It’s hard to say that is the case in any meaningful way.

A lot of what happens for the Hawkeyes offense in 2018 is likely to hinge on the continued improvement of the offensive line. There is some hope there with names like James Daniels, Alaric Jackson and especially young tackle Tristan Wirfs. If this group makes the necessary steps in the offseason, Iowa’s offense may just be able to compete.

There are a lot of ifs and maybes associated with the Hawkeyes offense, and this offseason is going to be key to deciding the near and long-term direction of this side of the ball. Let’s see if young players can make the jumps needed to make this offense more competitive in a quickly changing West division.

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