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Harty: Peter Gray is gone, but he can’t be forgotten

[ 0 ] November 13, 2012 |

Former Iowa athletics department official Peter Gray might be gone from the University of Iowa, but his impact is still being felt and probably will be for some time.

After Associated Press reporter Luke Meredith asked Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz about the issue Tuesday at a weekly news conference, Ferentz became so upset he responded by cursing during the conversation.

Ferentz was asked after the main news conference to respond to a report that has “been out there that you had your players cut off contact with Pete Gray.”

Gray resigned Nov. 5 from his position as senior academic adviser for the Iowa Athletic Department amid reports that he violated the institution’s sexual harassment policies.

Ferentz addressed the Gray question briefly at first, mostly just wondering about the origin of the report. The topic then shifted to the challenge of facing a dual-threat quarterback, which Iowa (4-6) will do Saturday against Michigan, when Ferentz re-visited the Gray question.

“I’m sorry, I’m distracted by, ‘It’s out there,’” Ferentz said. “I’ve got to apologize, but this is so bad.”

Meredith responded by saying he was only trying to confirm something he had heard.

“From where?” Ferentz said.

“It was a radio station, I guess,” Meredith said. “I was trying to get it from the horse’s mouth.”

But in this case, the horse didn’t budge.

“What is your question?” Ferentz said. “I will answer it, but not something that is just out there.”

Ferentz and Meredith then went back and forth about how much contact Gray had with Iowa football players. Ferentz at first said Gray didn’t have any contact with his players. Seconds later, however, Ferentz acknowledged that Gray had contact with his players, but not for a while.

Ferentz then was told that some of his former players had tweeted about the Gray scandal over the weekend. Former Iowa all-America defensive end Adrian Clayborn was among those who addressed the situation on Twitter. Clayborn played at Iowa from 2007-10 and was redshirted as a true freshman in 2006.

“Well, it’s about time, lol. I figured there was something wrong with that dude,” Clayborn said about Gray.

Ferentz said he was unaware of any tweets by former players.

At that point, Iowa sports information director Steve Roe told reporters that Ferentz was prohibited from commenting on the Gray situation and that it was time to move on.

Ferentz and Meredith continued their conversation on the side and that’s when Ferentz cursed.

“You sit in here every week and you ask that (expletive) question,” Ferentz said to Meredith.

It’s important to point out that Ferentz apologized to Meredith almost immediately.

Meredith declined to comment about his exchange with Ferentz.

Ferentz would’ve been wiser to also say nothing, but emotions are strained right now. His team has lost four games in a row and, barring an upset over Michigan or Nebraska in the last two games, Iowa will finish 4-8 overall. That would be the fewest victories since the 2000 team finished 3-9 in Ferentz’s second season as coach.

Ferentz has enough to worry about without having to deal with the fallout from the Gray scandal.

Somebody at the University of Iowa should have to deal with it, though.

UI officials should be asking themselves why Gray was re-hired by the Iowa Athletic Department in 2002 despite having shown inappropriate behavior during his first stint at Iowa, which lasted from 1993-95.

They should be trying to find out why Gray’s alleged creepy behavior, which included exchanging football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touching student-athletes, was allowed to persist for so long. It’s bad enough that Gray was re-hired again, but that he was allowed to abuse his position over an extended period is inexcusable.

Former Iowa offensive lineman Dace Richardson voiced his frustration about the Gray scandal on his Facebook page shortly after the story broke last week.

“This makes me sick and feel like this happened when I was there and we all just shrugged it off,” Richardson said.

If UI officials had their way, Gray would have resigned without any repercussions and the story would have been swept under a rug.

It’s unfortunate that Ferentz has been dragged into it because from all he accounts, he’s done nothing wrong. It’s not Ferentz’s responsibility to hire academic advisers.

Meredith also did nothing wrong by asking Ferentz to address the radio report. He was simply doing his job.

And part of his job as a reporter is to not let this story just fade away. Searching for the truth, no matter where it might take you or who it might offend along the way, is always the right thing to do.

Peter Gray is gone, but he can’t be forgotten.





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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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