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Attorney: Ex-Hawkeyes don't seek a 'money grab'
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IOWA FOOTBALL

Attorney: Ex-Hawkeyes don't seek a 'money grab'

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The Hawkeye logo is seen on the 50 yard line at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

An attorney representing eight former University of Iowa football players who claim they were subjected to intentional racism during their time with the Hawkeyes disputes the notion that his clients are looking for a "money grab."

Demario Solomon-Simmons, a Tulsa-based civil rights attorney, made that claim in a statement that followed the University of Iowa rejecting the group’s demands for a $20 million payment and the ouster of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and director of athletics Gary Barta.

Iowa rejected those demands in a letter sent to Solomon-Simmons on Sunday, one day before a deadline the group he represents sought to "amicably resolve" matters before potentially taking legal action.

In a statement, Solomon-Simmons said Iowa’s public rejection of the demands included in an Oct. 5 letter to the university has "only strengthened the resolve of our clients to continue to stand up for their rights and the rights of their teammates. Our clients appreciate Iowa making it clear to all Black student-athletes, former, present and prospective that under the current leadership at Iowa anti-Black racism is acceptable."

In their letter to the university, which Solomon-Simmons said was meant to be confidential, the group of former players — Maurice Fleming, Andre Harris, Marcel Joly, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Aaron Mends, Jonathan Parker, Reggie Spearman and Akrum Wadley — sought $10 million for their "loss of professional opportunities" and the "pain and suffering" they claim to have experienced as well as $10 million to be put in a fund to compensate other athletes.

In addition to the monetary and personnel changes, the letter also sought mandatory anti-racist training for all athletic department personnel, implementation of a senior Black male administrator position to support Black athletes and the establishment of a board of advisors to monitor the program.

It also sought tuition waivers for any Black student-athlete who did not graduate during Kirk Ferentz’s tenure and payment of the athletes’ attorney fees.

In its response, University of Iowa vice president of legal affairs Carroll J. Reasoner wrote that the university would "respectfully decline your monetary and personnel demands."

Reasoner also pointed out that Iowa had already implemented many of the demands and welcomed "the opportunity to visit" with the group to discuss their interest in participating in activities that lead to meaningful change.

Solomon-Simmons said Iowa’s refusal to compensate his clients while agreeing to a separation agreement with former strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle, whose alleged racist comments were at the center of initial complaints by dozens of former players, illustrates that the university "is more than willing to pay known multi-millionaire racist coaches, but paying Black victims of racism themselves is simply a bridge too far."

He went on to discount the suggestion that the group was simply trying to orchestrate a money grab.

"Our demand is just because the need for vindication and accountability is just," Solomon-Simmons wrote. "The need for meaningful change and not mere administrative shuffles of Black employees for the sake of public relations is just."

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