Iowa players support fired field hockey coach; AD responds

HawkCentral staff
In this photo provided by the University of Iowa athletics department, women’s field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum watches the team from the sidelines. Griesbaum, who led the Hawkeyes to success during a 14-year tenure, says she was fired after a group of former players falsely claimed that she mistreated them and that she did nothing to warrant being relieved from her post.

Iowa's field hockey players have released a statement supporting former coach Tracey Griesbaum, who was fired earlier this month.

The players told the student newspaper, the Daily Iowan, that Griesbaum's firing was "unfair and unjust." The players went on to say that it left them questioning the leadership of the Iowa athletic department.

The players say they remain "confused and saddened" by Griesbaum's firing. They ended the letter with "Hawks fly together. 21 strong."

Griesbaum told The Associated Press that her firing was based on false claims by former players that she bullied and mistreated them.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Tuesday in a statement he respects and appreciates the team's decision to support Griesbaum, despite clarifying he continues to disagree with some of the contents of the statement.

Barta's reply, in full:

I have been made aware of, and have read, the statement of support for coach Griesbaum released by our current field hockey team.

This has been an emotional process and period of time for everyone involved… including, and especially for, our student-athletes.

The women in our program have been very respectful and professional in several meetings with me and my staff. While I don't agree with everything in their statement, I do respect and appreciate the decision to support their former coach and their desire to publicly express it as a team.

As a program, we have focused the past several days on moving forward. I'm pleased with the student-athletes' expressed commitment to Iowa field hockey and their dedication to prepare for a successful 2014 season.

Barta said Monday in a separate statement that an investigation into Griesbaum "did not find conclusive evidence of policy violations" but identified concerns that were consistent with allegations that prompted it.