National Institute on Aging

University of Iowa Agrees to $4.2 Million Settlement of Racial Bias Lawsuit Filed by Football Players

The University of Iowa has agreed to a $4,175,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed by a group of African Americans who played football at the university. The former players alleged that they were demeaned with racial slurs, forced to abandon Black hairstyles, fashion and culture to fit the “Iowa Way” promoted by Coach Kirk Ferentz, and then retaliated against for speaking out.

In settling the case, the University of Iowa admitted to no wrongdoing in the case, despite the fact that an independent investigation by  a law firm hired by the university said that the program “perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity.”

Originally, the settlement called for Iowa taxpayers to foot nearly half the bill of the settlement. But after a public uproar, the university’s athletic department said they would pay the entire settlement from its own funds.

After legal fees, each of the 12 players will receive about $184,000. The university also agreed to provide $90,000 to support graduate or professional school tuition for the plaintiffs, with no individual receiving more than $20,000. Also, mental health counseling for the plaintiffs would be provided through March 15, 2024.

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