By The Gazette Editorial Board
We don’t know that Tyler Barnes’ hiring in January 2012 as a temporary administrative assistant for the University of Iowa football program was affected by his relationship with head coach Kirk Ferentz’s daughter. Barnes and Joanne Ferentz were dating at the time, and were engaged last summer.
The Gazette last week reported that UI athletics officials said they didn’t know of the engagement until a reporter asked about it. And as the story broke, UI announced that a review of whether Barnes’ employment violated the school’s conflict of interest policy was under way.
Good, but we’re troubled that the news of the relationship was a surprise and that no conflict-of-interest review had been done for Barnes. That’s part of standard UI policy to prevent nepotism, which includes “intense personal friendships.” If such conflicts for candidates otherwise qualified can’t be avoided, then a plan for managing is to be created.
Such a review was done when Ferentz’s son, Brian, was hired last year as a line coach. The Barnes case may be a simple communication error. But especially given Ferentz’s stature, Iowans are right to expect better.