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Former UI field hockey players rallying to criticize Griesbaum’s dismissal

[ 0 ] August 5, 2014 |
Tracey Griesbaum, former University of Iowa field hockey coach.

Tracey Griesbaum, former University of Iowa field hockey coach.

The decision to fire longtime Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum is being met with strong disapproval by some of her former players.

“Tracey has one of the best records at the university right now,” said Emily Rinde-Thorson, who was a member of the Iowa field hockey team for three seasons under Griesbaum from 2000 to 2002. “Her players, her current players and her alumni are happy with what she is doing and how she is running the program.

“I’m sort of at a loss for words. But that’s why this is so outrageous.”

Iowa announced Griesbaum’s termination late Monday afternoon in a news release.

Iowa sports information director Steve Roe said Tuesday afternoon that athletic director Gary Barta would have no further comment on Griesbaum’s situation. In the release, Barta was quoted as saying, “Following a comprehensive review of the field hockey program conducted this summer, I have made the decision it was time for a change in leadership.”

Barta said the university will honor the terms of Griesbaum’s contract, which provides that she receive a one-time payment of $200,000 in the event of a not-for-cause termination.

Rinde-Thorsen, who currently lives in New Hampshire, is among a growing number of former players who are voicing their support for Griesbaum on social media.

Rinde-Thorsen said she has spoken to some of the current players and described them as being devastated and confused by the decision to fire Griesbaum barely two weeks before the start of the season — and on the same day Iowa held its football media day on campus.

“This is something I think the athletic administration hoped would get buried in the (coverage) of Iowa football media day,” Rinde-Thorsen said. “And the alums are not going to allow that to happen.

“The email was sent at 5:12 p.m. which is after office hours, which I also think is bad business.”

Griesbaum, who couldn’t be reached for comment, was entering her 15th season as the Iowa coach when she was terminated. She led the Hawkeyes to three consecutive Big Ten Tournament championships from 2006 to 2008, one regular season Big Ten championship, six NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2008 NCAA Final Four.

Iowa advanced to the Big Ten Tournament championship game last season for the 10th time in program history.

“I think it was handled poorly,” said Adriene Metzger, who was a captain for Iowa’s 2007 squad after joining the program as a walk-on. “I don’t like to use the word unfair. But I do, however, think things could be handled differently.”

As for what led to Griesbaum being fired, Rinde-Thorsen has been told that some former players complained about Griesbaum using bullying tactics.

“That is all speculation right now, but that is exactly what we’ve heard,” Rinde-Thorsen said.

Metzger said she didn’t witness bullying tactics.

“I don’t know all of the ins and outs of everything,” said Metzger, who lives in Omaha. “I think as far as my thoughts on the situation is some girls can’t handle the amount of work it takes to play a Division I sport.

“I don’t think it’s for everybody.”

The field hockey team will open its 2014 season with an exhibition game against Louisville on Aug. 23 at Grant Field.

Barta said in the release that he is working to identify new leadership for the program as quickly as possible.

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Category: Hawkeye news

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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