Goetz knows challenges lie ahead at Iowa
IOWA CITY (AP) — Beth Goetz wasn’t around for most of the lawsuits, settlements and football controversy that shed a negative light on the Iowa athletic department in recent years.
As interim athletic director, her job is to get the department moving in a positive direction and make sure the bad things that happened in the past don’t happen again.
“I think we, like any other institution, have had trying moments,” Goetz said at her introductory news conference Thursday. “Although I wasn’t here for those, I understand what those issues are, what those issues were like then, and try to ensure and help support us in not making any repetitive mistakes.”
Goetz takes over for Gary Barta, who retired July 31 after 17 years as athletic director. She was hired last September as deputy athletic director and chief operating officer after four years as Ball State’s athletic director. She was an athletic administrator at Connecticut and Minnesota before that.
The 49-year-old Missouri native is in charge at a time when the Big Ten is taking steps toward the expansion to 18 schools next year with the additions of UCLA, Southern California, Oregon and Washington. There also are challenges with the NCAA transfer portal and possible new laws and rules for NIL, which allows college athletes to make money from their name, image and likeness.
Goetz’s immediate focus is the state’s investigation into illegal sports wagering by college athletes and its fallout.
On the day she began her job, Aug. 1, criminal charges were filed against three current or former Iowa athletes in connection with the investigation. Last week charges were filed against three more.
All the athletes are suspected of tampering with records to disguise their identity. They were under the state’s legal betting age of 21 and NCAA athletes at the time their mobile betting accounts were set up under the names of other people, according to criminal complaints.
In addition to possible prison terms and fines if found guilty, the athletes also face the loss of all or part of their remaining eligibility under NCAA rules.
Other Iowa athletes remain under investigation, and Goetz said the school has begun the NCAA’s process for reinstating eligibility. She said she expects to receive feedback from the NCAA within days.
Goetz said she thought her department’s gambling education program had been adequate, but the expansion of sports wagering across the country on mobile apps and at casinos might prompt her to take a new look at how athletes are counseled on NCAA gambling rules.
“The integrity of the game, there’s nothing more important than that,” she said. “But we do think there is going to have to be an evaluation of how these rules are applied from the NCAA level.”
Under Barta, the athletic department paid out more than $11 million in settlements, including one in March for $4.2 million to 12 Black football players who alleged racial discrimination and abuse in the football program.
In 2021, the department paid $400,000 to settle a Title IX lawsuit after dropping the women’s swimming program. The program later was reinstated.
The department paid $6.5 million in 2017 to the former field hockey coach and her partner to settle a lawsuit based on the coach’s allegation she was discriminated against based on her gender and sexual orientation.
On top of the settlements, the football program has been dogged by concerns over nepotism with 25th-year coach Kirk Ferentz hiring and retaining his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator.
The father-son relationship required Barta, under university policy, to be Brian Ferentz’s direct supervisor, and Goetz said she would continue in that role.
Goetz said an amendment to Brian Ferentz’s contract remains in place requiring Iowa to win seven games and average 25 points per game for him to keep his job.
Goetz has experience taking over during trying times. She was Minnesota’s interim athletic director from August 2015 to May 2016, after Norwood Teague resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.