Thomas Newkirk, Donna Lopiano, and Jill Zwagerman speak outside the courtroom at the Polk County Courthouse on Thursday. Newkirk and Zwagerman are Meyer's attorneys, Lopiano is an expert witness. (The Daily Iowan/Blake Dowson)

Meyer trial: Jane Meyer speaks on Barta, Taylor, department issues

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By Blake Dowson

blake-dowson@uiowa.edu

Gene Taylor, the man whom Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta hired in August 2014 to effectively replace Jane Meyer in the Athletics Department, was in Jill Zwagerman’s cross hairs on the morning of April 20 in the Polk County Courthouse.

Before Meyer took the stand to continue her testimony at 9 a.m., she seemed nervous, pacing in and out of the courtroom. However, when she was called to the stand to start the morning, she was mostly collected in her thoughts.

View a timeline of events here

Meyer did get emotional in discussing the responsibilities and subsequent pay Taylor received during his time at Iowa.

When Taylor was hired as the new deputy athletics director, he was given the responsibilities of facilities management, day-to-day operations of men’s basketball and football, Herky’s Locker Room, and strategic planning — all duties Meyer had previously fulfilled. Meyer still held her responsibilities of day-to-day operations of women’s basketball, sports medicine, senior women’s administration, and Finkbine Golf Course.

Meyer said Taylor wasn’t doing much compared with what she had previously done under that same job description and not close to the amount of work to justify his $245,000 starting salary, almost $80,000 more than she was paid.

Meyer said that every time she walked into Taylor’s office, he was watching ESPN. “I don’t have time to watch ESPN,” Meyer recalled thinking at the time.

Taylor left the Iowa Athletics Department on April 14 to become the AD at Kansas State.

The investigation of the field-hockey program and Meyer’s partner, then-coach Tracey Griesbaum, was also discussed April 20.

Meyer said she felt as though she was being investigated along with her partner. The first question she was asked, she said, was whether she was in a relationship with Griesbaum.

“It doesn’t matter,” Meyer testified, noting the university’s nondiscrimination policy and her conversation with Sue Buckley, then the UI vice president for Human Resources, who cleared their relationship. “It should have never been asked.”

Meyer also described her relationship with Barta regarding her sexual orientation. She said Barta often asked other employees about their home lives before meetings started and made general small talk with them, but never with her.

“I was never given any comfort from Mr. Barta that it was OK [to be a lesbian],” Meyer testified.

Story: Meyer first took the stand Wednesday afternoon

Zwagerman interrupted Meyer’s testimony to call Donna Lopiano to the stand. Lopiano is the president of Sports Management Resources, a single member LLC in Connecticut that she started in 2008. Lopiano has been an expert witness in more than 20 trials, most dealing with some sort of gender-equity lawsuit. She has also testified before Congress three times on Title IX issues.

Lopiano, who has spent much of her life publishing work on sport-management best practices, was at one time the women’s athletics director at Texas.

In a healthy relationship between an athletics director and a senior associate (as Barta and Meyer were), “there is synergy between both parties,” she said.

In Lopiano’s report on the situation, however, she said she found no trust of Meyer from Barta’s end.

In many instances, Meyer had to go through Barta’s secretary if she wanted to speak with him.

In terms of working together on making decisions in the Athletics Department, Lopiano said, Meyer was “expected to agree or remain silent.”

Lopiano will be back on the stand on the afternoon of April 20, followed by the continuation of Meyer’s testimony. Barta is expected to be in Des Moines this afternoon, but it is unlikely he will take the stand until Friday April 21.

Story: Trial continues Wednesday morning, Kevin Ward takes stand again

 

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