IOWA CITY — University of Iowa President Sally Mason on Friday offered an apology on behalf of the university and detailed numerous changes intended to improve student-athlete advising and compliance in the Athletics Department in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
The UI will conduct a detailed review of all hiring processes, starting with athletics; launch an internal audit of student-athlete advising services; implement additional sexual harassment training for all employees in advising services; and shift supervision of student-athlete advisers and athletics compliance so they are overseen by top UI administrators, Mason said. The changes are aimed at better protecting students, faculty and staff, she said.
“The University of Iowa owes an apology to everyone affected by this avoidable incident,” Mason said Friday in a statement announcing the changes. “We cannot afford to allow even an isolated breakdown in our system to compromise that fundamental commitment.”
Peter Gray, who was associate director of athletic student services since 2002, resigned last week amid accusations that he provided football tickets for sexual favors and had inappropriately touched student-athletes. Gray, 59, also worked for UI athletics from 1993 to 1995.
The changes and reviews announced by Mason are welcome, state Board of Regents member Bob Downer said Friday. Downer, an Iowa City attorney, said he remains interested in getting more information about “what went wrong in connection with Mr. Gray’s rehire, because it does seem to me there were issues in his employment history.”
“So I’m certainly very interested in looking at proposed policy changes, but I also still think that we need to look at what went wrong, and that we need to determine what lessons should have been learned from that,” Downer said. “I don’t think these are things where the answers are going to come instantly, and I much prefer that these be looked at carefully and that the processes be gotten right. I think it’s even more important that we not have to redo this again.”
Regents President Craig Lang in a statement said the board has full confidence in Mason to conduct a thorough investigation of these issues. Board leaders thanked Mason for her readiness to investigate “critical compliance issues.”
“Her deep concern for the safety of students, faculty and staff, and her solid determination to identify answers and address the specific findings of this case will lead the university to the necessary conclusions,” Lang said.
The board looks forward to a report of findings, Lang said. He had no additional comment.
Bill Hines, a UI law professor and chairman of the UI Presidential Committee on Athletics, said he spoke with Mason Friday and offered that group’s help in any investigation. The committee respects Mason’s decision on the next steps that she thinks will offer the best opportunity for a “comprehensive and impartial review of this matter,” Hines said.
The detailed review of hiring processes and the internal audit to examine processes in student-athlete advising services and compliance both will be conducted by the university’s internal audit office, spokesman Tom Moore said. There is no timeline, but officials want the review and audit to begin immediately and be completed as swiftly as possible, Moore said.
Mason said she is confident university officials “have developed remedies addressing the breakdowns that occurred.” She added that the university will not publicly discuss the disciplinary actions that pertain to the specific employees involved in this case.
After Gray resigned his position last week, an internal UI document dated Oct. 24 that detailed the UI’s investigation of sexual harassment complaints against Gray was leaked to the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
The changes effective immediately are: a detailed review of all hiring processes to ensure units are being compliant with practices for vetting and hiring applicants; an internal audit to examine processes in student-athlete advising and compliance; shifting supervision for student-athlete advising to the provost and athletic director for at least two years; shifting supervision of compliance operations in athletics to the UI general counsel and athletics director for at least two years; and requiring all staff in advising services and compliance operations to take additional sexual harassment training, which is mandated for all UI employees.