Report finds no inequitable treatment but recommends some areas for improvement
Thursday, January 31, 2019

The law firm hired to review the University of Iowa’s employment practices has submitted its report on the UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The review found employees “clearly understood” the importance of diversity within the department, actively recruit women and minority candidates, and know what to do if someone reports discrimination or harassment.

According to the 14-page report, which can be read online, “the review did not uncover any inequitable treatment of applicants or employees on the basis of protected class.”

Multiple employees expressed a desire for more diversity in the athletics department, but none reported having personally experienced harassment or discrimination on the basis of protected class in the course of their employment.

The compliance review by Fredrikson & Byron P.A. included an analysis of salary data, hiring practices, and interviews with 19 current athletics department employees, a diverse group with respect to race, sexual orientation, and gender. The review excluded confidential personnel records to protect employee privacy, but athletics employees wishing to report concerns were invited to contact the external reviewers directly, though none did.

“The review illustrates that the athletics department does a good job overall, with some areas for improvement,” says Cheryl Reardon, UI chief human recourses officer and associate vice president. “The report and recommendations have been shared with Athletics Department leadership and all department recommendations have either been implemented or are in the process of being implemented in the near future. I appreciate the report’s attention to detail and recommendations for additional training to become an even stronger workplace.”

While the athletics department has been successful in recruiting and hiring a greater percentage of women and minorities than apply for the department’s open positions, the report recommends additional training for employees who interview candidates and a more consistent process for gathering feedback after the interviews. 

The report identified some “self-explanatory” salary disparities for higher-visibility sports that recruit and support more student athletes “but no pattern indicating disparities based on race, gender, or any other protected class.” It recommends additional training on salary-setting for recruiters and documentation on the salary decision at the time of hire. In addition, the employees interviewed shared no concerns about equitable treatment in discipline and noted leave requests are rarely denied.

With the athletics department review complete, the university will move to a review of its academic and operational units and UI Health Care.

“We’ve said from the start that it is important to take our time to identify ways the university can strengthen HR practice moving forward in order to continue to serve as a leading employer not only in Iowa, but nationally,” says Reardon.