IOWA CITY – The first University of Iowa emails to notify Athletics Department staffers of adviser Peter Gray’s resignation asked that staff not speculate for the reasons behind his resignation or contact Gray about it.
“I visited with Pete this weekend to discuss his situation and was informed that he will be resigning his position due to personal reasons,” department official Fred Mims, who was Gray’s supervisor, wrote in an Oct. 29 email to some department staff. “He requests that staff refrain from contacting him at this time. It is my hope that he will reach out to us at a later time to inform us of his future plans. In the meantime please honor his request not to ask him questions. Also he asks that you do not speculate about why he has resigned.”
But other documents show that the investigation of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior with student-athletes began Oct. 4, and that Mims was aware of it at that time. The last email that Gray sent from his university account was on Oct. 1, according to the documents released Monday.
Gray’s employment with the university ended Nov. 5. The former associate director of athletic student services resigned after the UI investigation found a “reasonable basis to conclude that the university’s policy on sexual harassment has been violated.”
The university on Monday released more than 2,800 pages of documents, mostly emails to and from Athletics Department staffers, some regarding Gray and some regarding routine department matters. The documents were released in response to open records requests from several media outlets, including The Gazette.
Not among the documents made public was Gray’s letter of resignation, which UI officials declined to release because they consider it part of his personnel record. The university also did not release documents pertaining to the internal investigation of Gray conducted by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
Several emails to numerous department staffers from Mims on Oct. 29 appear to be the first notification within the Athletics Department about Gray’s resignation. One email from Mims said he wanted to inform the recipient of “unf0rtunate news.” Another email from Mims to department staff said “Pete asks that we not speculate on his resignation and in time he will inform us.”
An Oct. 4 email from Josephine Bathke, director of university employee and labor relations, seems to refer to the case, requesting that Mims meet with her the next day “regarding an important investigation issue.”
An email on Oct. 9 from Jennifer Modestou, director of equal opportunity and diversity, to Georgina Dodge, chief diversity officer, mentions a new complaint under investigation.
UI documents regarding Gray’s hire at the UI in 2002 show he was the top choice for the job out of 28 total candidates, two of them internal to the department. It appears six candidates, including Gray, were interviewed. Gray had previously worked at the university from 1993 to 1995, and was rehired in 2002, but his previous employment was not mentioned in the 2002 documents.
A letter from Mims to Modestou in July 2002, requesting permission to offer the job to Gray, said his experiences “exceed those of other candidates.”
In the wake of the investigation of sexual harassment allegations this fall, UI President Sally Mason said the university will audit hiring practices and review student advising, among other steps. Athletics Director Gary Barta also reorganized the compliance and student services units in his department, partly due to the incident, and reassigned Mims to other duties in the department.
Regents President Craig Lang last week said the university’s handling of the reported sexual harassment by Gray suggests the university is not doing a good enough job in that area.
– Staff writer Vanessa Miller contributed to this report.