Jury trial date set for 2023 in Iowa football discrimination lawsuit

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

A trial date has been set in the University of Iowa football discrimination lawsuit: March 6, 2023.

The scheduling order, obtained by the Des Moines Register, was signed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Southern Iowa by magistrate judge Helen Adams. The jury trial would be heard by U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose, with an expected length of 10 days.

However, there’s no guarantee that a trial will take place. A settlement remains a strong possibility, as was outlined in a May 11 Register article, considering the enormous potential legal costs on both sides for a case that could last another 22 months.

Wednesday’s filings were largely procedural but did outline key dates ahead and signal that a settlement has not occurred.

In the lawsuit filed in Polk County in November, 13 Black former players were seeking compensation for suffering civil-rights violations under eight counts. In an early-May response written by Rose to the UI’s motion to dismiss, six of those counts were thrown out. The remaining counts are Count I (racially hostile environment) and IV (depravation of civil rights).

In an initial demands letter, players were seeking $20 million in damages and the firing of head coach Kirk Ferentz. The number of plaintiffs has been trimmed to three (Javon Foy, Aaron Mends and Brandon Simon) on Count I and seven (Foy, Mends, Simon, Darian Cooper, Marcel Joly, Jonathan Parker and Akrum Wadley) on Count IV. The case's focus, following Rose's May 6 ruling that dismissed Ferentz and athletics director Gary Barta as defendants, is now centered around the actions of former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and current offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. The university has since said, "we look forward to the presentation of the university’s defense in court."

Des Moines attorney Alfredo Parrish represented the players in Wednesday’s 27-minute scheduling conference. Jeffrey Peterzalek of the attorney general’s office represented the defendants, which include the university, the Board of Regents, Doyle and Brian Ferentz.