Education

University of Iowa to pay up to $675 an hour for athletics investigation

Husch Blackwell has handled many high-profile sports reviews, including Title IX cases at Iowa State University

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld (from left) shakes hands with Athletic Director Gary Barta before the NCAA fo
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld (from left) shakes hands with Athletic Director Gary Barta before the NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sep. 1, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Kansas City, Mo., law firm that will investigate allegations of racism in the University of Iowa Athletics Department was paid more than $120,000 by Iowa State University in 2017 and 2018 to handle cases related to sexual misconduct and racial discrimination.

The UI signed a contract with Husch Blackwell on Friday for an independent investigation Athletics Director Gary Barta said will take “weeks, not months” and will focus on former football players’ allegations of racist and demeaning comments made by the Hawkeye football coaching staff.

The contract doesn’t spell out the estimated cost of the probe, but it does say payment amounts for attorneys range from $240 to $675 per hour for partners and $200 to $390 per hour for senior counsel and associates.

The contract doesn’t say whether or how much the firm would be paid for travel or other expenses.

Payments to Husch Blackwell will come from the Athletic Department budget, UI said.

The lead on the UI investigation is Hayley Hanson, a Drake Law School graduate who specializes in education law and has experience with cases involving gender equity, sexual misconduct and other discrimination, according to the contract and the firm’s website.

Hanson and others working on the review will report to Carroll Reasoner, UI legal affairs and general counsel.

Husch Blackwell, which has 700 attorneys in 19 offices around the U.S., is a major player in high-profile sports investigations.

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Michigan State hired the firm in 2017 to do a Title IX review after the sexual assaults by Larry Nassar and other reported sexual assaults by former MSU football players, WILX News 10 reported.

The Iowa State Daily reported in 2018 that ISU paid Husch Blackwell $120,325 to provide legal help on three cases in 2017 and 2018. Two cases involved women who accused ISU of violating Title IX, the federal gender equity law, in their response to reported sexual assaults on or near campus.

In the third lawsuit, ISU’s former Title IX coordinator Robinette Kelley alleged Iowa State didn’t give her the proper authority and funding to investigate sex discrimination and sexual misconduct, the Daily reported. Kelley also said she was treated differently because she is a woman of color.

Kelley and ISU settled two related lawsuits for $125,000 in 2018, the ISU Daily reported.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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