The University of Iowa may have just taken the first few steps in covering their tracks concerning Peter Gray, the disgraced former academics advisor for the University of Iowa athletic department who resigned last Monday in the wake of sexual harassment accusations.
But before we get into all that, let’s quickly recap Gray’s timeline at Iowa (via the Iowa City Press-Citizen):
“A senior academics adviser for the University of Iowa Athletics Department who resigned this week allegedly provided football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touched student-athletes, documents obtained by the Press-Citizen show.”
“Gray also was found to have inappropriate photographs stored on his work computer, including two that involved individuals engaged in sex acts with toys or stuffed animals, numerous pictures of college-aged individuals posing in swimsuits and a few of individuals dressed in underwear, the document states.”
Gray’s employment with the university first began in 1993 and ended in 1995 before he was re-hired in 2002. But according to the report, there was already knowledge within the university athletic department of Gray’s inappropriate behavior.
“‘Several individuals stated that they commented to Dr. Gray and/or brought the information to the attention of a supervisor. Several individuals stated that the touching behavior took place during Dr. Gray’s first employment with the University and has continued from 2002 to the present,’ the document, dated Oct. 24, states.”
The behavior in 1993-1995, according to the Associated Press, included “overly friendly hugs, massages and other touching that colleagues and students said was unprofessional and made them feel uncomfortable.”
Yet somehow in 2002, seven years after Gray had left the program amidst these allegations, Gray was offered and accepted the position he resigned from on Monday. And now, even after this report was made public and the University of Iowa has had time to review it’s rehiring of Gray, they’re standing by their 2002 decision. In a complete reversal from what’s indicated in the report, William Hines, chair of the Presidential Committee on Athletics, essentially denies the existence of the ’90s allegations and claims the re-hiring of Gray was “above board.” Via the AP:
“Hines said he does not believe that Gray left “under a cloud” in 1995 but rather for a promotion at another university. The same year, Gray earned his doctorate degree from Indiana University’s school of education. Gray then worked at the University of Mississippi, Coastal Carolina and Indiana and before returning to Iowa City in 2002.
Hines said Gray was hired in 2002 as the associate director of athletics student services after a search drew a number of other well-qualified candidates, and Gray was determined to be far and away “the outstanding candidate in the pool.” Gray was in charge of supervising athletics counselors and monitoring the academic progress of student-athletes.”
While we obviously feel for all of Gray’s victims and in no way approve of his conduct, the University’s intial blame deflecting is troubling, especially in the wake of everything that happened at Penn State. While everyone suspects similar levels of institutional corruption across the board in college sports, it’s always disturbing to see that come to fruition. To be fair to Iowa, university president Sally Mason is still “reviewing the entire situation,” so she still has time to come clean for the University of Iowa as a whole. But all the initial signs point towards the worst, even if we don’t quite have all the facts yet.
Of course it’s difficult to know exactly how well-known the accusations against Gray were in the ’90s – there’s probably been a lot of staff turnover since then, therefore making it difficult to gage widespread recollection. But we sincerely hope all of this wasn’t just shoved under the rug Penn State-style.