UI reassigns Ferentz's future son-in-law to avoid conflict

Barnes and Joanne Ferentz were dating when Barnes was hired in January 2012

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IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa Athletics Department has reassigned an administrative assistant so he no longer reports through the football program, headed by his future father-in-law, Kirk Ferentz.

Tyler Barnes will report to Rick Klatt, associate athletics director for external relations, until the completion of a UI review of whether Barnes’s employment violates the UI’s conflict of interest policy, Athletics Director Gary Barta said in a prepared statement Thursday.

“This supervisory move makes sense, as several of Tyler’s current duties within the football program focus on website, internet and social media functions associated with recruiting,” Barta said in the release. “This will also help mitigate his change in personal status in the short term.

The announcement was made the same day The Gazette reported on the UI’s review of Barnes’s hire. Barta and other athletics officials said they did not know Barnes and Joanne Ferentz were engaged until the newspaper asked about it last week.

Barnes, 27, and Joanne Ferentz, a 25-year-old Iowa City elementary school teacher, were dating when Barnes was hired in January 2012 and got engaged last summer. They are planning a July 6 wedding, according to an online wedding registry.

The UI’s policy on nepotism says conflicts of interest in employment can arise not only from blood relationship, but through marriage, “intense personal friendships or significant business relationships.” When conflicts can’t be avoided, the UI requires supervisors to create plans for managing the conflict.

UI Vice President for Human Resources Sue Buckley said last week she would request a review of Barnes’s employment by someone from UI President Sally Mason’s office. On Thursday, she said she expected to talk with Athletics officials next week about possible resolutions.

“There are various options,” Buckley said, but declined to discuss available remedies. “I will be hearing from athletics about how they are proposing to resolve it.”

Barnes, who earned two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree from UI, was hired in January 2012 as a temporary administrative assistant for football, according to documents The Gazette obtained through an Open Records request.

The one-year appointment with an annual salary of $32,000 is intended as a proving ground for young men who want to learn about football operations, Ferentz said. Barnes succeeded LeVar Woods, who became an assistant coach earlier this year.

“By all accounts, Tyler has been a model employee within the athletics department and other areas across campus the past few years,” Barta said in the release. “I am not aware of any complaints or concerns related to Tyler’s job performance during that time period. “

Athletics officials asked the UI in November to extend Barnes’s employment for an extra year and bumped up his pay to $38,000.

Kirk Ferentz told the Gazette he didn’t see a reason to tell Barta about the change in Barnes's personal status.

“I didn’t see any reason to,” Ferentz said earlier this week.

“My No. 1 responsibility is to do my job as well as I can. Anytime we hire anybody, we are going to try to get the best possible person we can. Tyler’s expertise is in operations, recruiting and technology. His strengths complement what we have,” he said.

In February 2012, the UI hired Brian Ferentz as offensive line coach under his father.

Brian Ferentz, a former Hawkeye who had experience coaching for the New England Patriots, beat out more than 100 other applicants for the job, the Associated Press reported. In Brian’s case, the UI did complete a conflict-of-interest management plan, which included Kirk Ferentz not supervising his son.

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