Iowa Maybe Kind Of In Trouble For Painting Their Opponents’ Locker Room Pink Three Decades Ago

  • Eric Goldschein

Back in the 1980s, University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry had the locker room for Hawkeye opponents painted pink. Anyone familiar with football machismo culture can guess why: pink is like, for girls and stuff. Well, here in 2013, we’ll have none of that “equating pink with femininity” business, because two lawyers are taking a stand, of sorts.

A passage from Fry’s autobiography called pink a “passive” color. Apparently, Coach Fry hoped to lull visiting teams to sleep and them sack them and/or throw 90-yard touchdown passes while the other team napped or meditated.

But according to Jill Gaulding (a former UI faculty member) and law partner Lisa Stratton, the opponents’ locker room at Kinnick Stadium is a leading example of “pink shaming.” It must have taken her about 30 years to come up with that phrase, because no one seems to have taken issue with this until now. Regardless, at a workshop during the Iowa Governors Conference on LGBTQ Youth, the duo handed out a pamphlet featuring the following:

“Most people understand the pink locker room as a taunt against the other team, calling them a bunch of ladies/girls/sissies/pansies/etc.”

As a response to this, the lawyers aren’t suing the school based on gender discrimination — they’re just saying somebody could, if they were so inclined. The workshop discussed how schools that engage in this type of gender discrimination create legal liabilities for themselves, based on Title IX and Title VII.

“[T]hey could be exposed to a declaratory judgment action where someone would just seek to settle the question legally and have a judge decide once and for all is this OK or not.”

So, this concept bothers Gaulding, but not quite enough to go any further than handing out pamphlets about it. The Iowa administration, meanwhile, maintains that pink is used to “calm” Iowa opponents — though considering the Hawkeyes went 2-5 at home last year, they might want to rethink that argument should anyone have the [chutzpah] to take Iowa to court.

[Big Lead]

Photo by Brian Ray/The Gazette via