The University of Iowa has rebuffed demands from a group of black former athletes who demanded $20 million in damages for the “racial discrimination,” that they claimed they faced while playing football for the school.
An attorney for the students, Demario Solomon-Simmons, demanded that the school pay his eight clients, all former Hawkeyes players, the sum because they “were subjected to intentional race discrimination by coaching staff and administration,” the Hill reported.
“Through the Program’s pervasive harassment, bullying, policies causing disparate impact, and race-based threats and retaliation, our clients were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to pursue a high-quality education while competing at the highest level of collegiate athletics,” the attorney added.
The letter also called for Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, assistant coach Brian Ferentz, and athletic director Gary Berta to be fired.
The letter also demands that the school force all its staff to undergo compulsory anti-racist training, create a permanent position for a black senior administrator, and issue waivers to every black student who didn’t graduate during coach Ferentz’s 22-year tenure at the school.
The attorney also threatened to file a lawsuit by Oct. 19 if the school did not accede to his demands.
The school, though, did not see any reason to agree to the demands.
“We respectfully decline your monetary and personnel demands,” noting that the university and team had already “publicly addressed some of the concerns,” the school said in its reply on Sunday.
In June, 60 former Iowa players organized to claim racial discrimination at the school. After the allegations, the school initiated an independent investigation into the allegations that claimed to have substantiated the claims saying that the school’s structure “perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity.” But the report also claimed that the school had since instituted “positive changes” to ameliorate the problems.
Coach Ferentz slammed the attorney’s demands.
“I am disappointed to receive this type of demand letter. Due to the threat of litigation, I am not able to address the specific comments made by our former players,” Ferentz reportedly said. “As you may know, this past summer, we made adjustments to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our student-athletes. These changes include both policies and rules, as well as an expanded leadership council of current players and a new advisory committee comprised of former players.”
Attorney Solomon-Simmons has not yet responded to the school’s announcement.
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