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Iowa took series of steps to keep football coaches’ hirings in compliance with own policies

[ 1 ] March 4, 2012 |
@2012, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.

Iowa athletic officials were forced to take a series of steps to keep the hiring of assistant football coaches Greg Davis and Brian Ferentz in compliance with university employment policies, athletic director Gary Barta told the Des Moines Register.

Barta said those steps included hiring Davis, the Hawkeyes new offensive coordinator, on an interim basis for one year because his hiring failed to comply with equal employment opportunity standards set by the university.

The hiring of Ferentz, son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, prompted decisions that satisfied the policy to limit the hiring of immediate family members by university employees.

“In both cases, we have acted within the university policies and procedures as we always do,” Barta said.

The university’s affirmative action regulations require that a position be advertised in local, regional and national publications where appropriate and that advertising cover 10 working days.

Equal opportunity policies by the Iowa state Board of Regents, meanwhile, require that all vacancies be advertised publicly for at least five days.

Davis, who resigned in 2010 after 12 years as an assistant coach at the University of Texas, took the job with the understanding that a formal search would have to be held within a year of his hiring, Barta said.

“We will conduct that search at the appropriate time, but right now we are just trying to get spring practice underway after a number of changes on the football staff,” Barta said.

Of Brian Ferentz’ hiring, Barta acknowledged that a management plan designed to remove Kirk Ferentz from decision-making responsibility that would affect the employment status of his son would have to be implemented.

“The steps that we are taking will enable us to have a top young coach on the staff,” Barta said. “We believe that he shouldn’t be penalized because his last name is Ferentz.”

Iowa’s university policy strongly advises against the hiring of immediate family members.

The policy states: “For the purpose of protecting both the integrity and objectivity of its employees in the performance of their University obligations, and to create a workplace environment based in equity and fairness, it is the policy of the University that conflicts of interest should be avoided where possible, and otherwise disclosed and managed.”

Barta said similar steps related to Iowa athletics have been taken in the past, including when former basketball coach Steve Alford wanted to employ his father, Sam, as a member of the staff, and former football assistant Bobby Elliott worked on Hayden Fry’s staff when his father, Bump, was athletic director.

State law prohibits any person elected or appointed to a public position from hiring immediate family unless the employee is to receive less than $600 annually, is a public school teacher or a clerk in the Iowa General Assembly.

Iowa’s football staff underwent major changes following the 2011 season when long-time defensive coordinator Norm Parker retired and offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe (NFL’s Miami Dolphins) and defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski (Nebraska) left for other jobs.

Kirk Ferentz shook up his existing staff by promoting Phil Parker to defensive coordinator, shifting offensive line coach Reese Morgan to defensive line and moving linebacker coach Darrell Wilson to the defensive secondary.

Ferentz also hired Davis as offensive coordinator, Brian Ferentz as offensive line coach and former Hawkeye player Lavar Woods as linebackers coach.

Barta said Davis’ employment is considered an emergency hire because of the timing of the resignation of O’Keefe, who left the staff Feb. 2.

“Ken’s resignation didn’t give us much time to get someone into the offensive coordinator’s position with spring football right around the corner,” Barta said. “We believed that this hire was a good one and we asked that we be allowed to offer the position.”

For context: Iowa State also temporarily waived its affirmative action policy in 2010 to hire current men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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