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Former field hockey coach criticizes Griesbaum firing in letter to Regents

[ 0 ] August 11, 2014 |

The decision to fire Tracey Griesbaum as the Iowa field hockey coach continues to be met with strong resistance.
Former Iowa field hockey coach Beth Beglin has written a letter to the Iowa state Board of Regents in which she accuses the University of Iowa Athletic Department of “disparate treatment” between men’s and women’s coaches.

Beglin, who now lives in North Liberty and works as an attorney, requested in the letter that Griesbaum either be reinstated as coach or be placed on administrative leave pending the completion of a thorough and comprehensive review of the Iowa field hockey program, the UI Athletic Department as a whole and Gary Barta’s leadership.

Barta was hired as Iowa’s athletic director in 2006.

Beglin also criticized UI President Sally Mason in the letter, calling her response to Griesbaum’s firing on Aug. 4 as “inadequate.”

Beglin accused the athletic department of having a double standard with regard to how it deals with male and female head coaches. She pointed out that since 2010, five female head coaches either have been fired, resigned or given the option to resign or retire under Barta’s leadership, whereas there was no punishment for any of the Iowa football coaches in the wake of the Rhabdomyolysis incident in which 13 players were hospitalized in 2011 following a strenuous workout.

“There appears to be a double standard of discipline for head coaches within the athletic department related to either behavior or complaints made by student athletes and/or parents and that double standard has created a climate of fear and intimidation for female head coaches, making it impossible to discipline student-athletes without fear of employment consequences,” Beglin wrote in the letter.

Iowa sports information director Steve Roe said Monday afternoon that Barta would have no comment on Beglin’s letter to the regents or any additional comment on Griesbaum’s termination.

Iowa announced Griesbaum’s termination in a news release in the late afternoon of Aug. 4.

“Tracey has had a successful career as our head field hockey coach,” Barta said in the release. “I am appreciative of her service.

“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.”

A call asking for comment from the Board of Regents wasn’t returned as of late Monday afternoon.

Griesbaum’s firing came amid accusations of verbal and mental abuse levied by some of her former players. She also has been accused of favoring certain players.

Griesbaum was entering her 15th season as head coach when she was fired barely two weeks before the season opener. She has since been replaced on an interim basis by former UI assistant Lisa Cellucci.
Griesbaum led Iowa to three consecutive Big Ten Tournament titles from 2006-08, one regular-season Big Ten championship, six NCAA Tournament appearances and the 2008 NCAA Final Four.

“Tracey has one of the best record at the university right now,” former Iowa field hockey player Emily Rinde-Thorsen said the day after Griesbaum was fired. “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. That’s why this is so outrageous.”

Griesbaum’s supporters also started a Facebook page last week entitled “Reinstate Tracey Griesbaum as University of Iowa Field Hockey Coach.”

Beglin expressed her concern in the letter for the future of the Iowa field hockey program. The program has enjoyed long-term success, including winning a national title in 1986.

“This decision has the potential to destroy a program that has been 37 years in the making and is the most successful women’s team in the athletic program,” Beglin wrote in the letter.

Beglin also questioned why UI officials would promote Cellucci from a staff that was accused of creating a culture of fear and intimidation.

Beglin coached the Iowa field hockey team for 12 seasons from 1988-99. She led Iowa to 199 victories and six trips to the NCAA Final Four before being replaced by Griesbaum, who was an assistant coach under Beglin. The Hawkeyes won 45 consecutive matches on Grant Field from 1988-94 and on two different occasions under Beglin they amassed Big Ten Conference victory streaks of 20 or more (winning 25 in a row from 1990-93).

Beglin was inducted into the UI Athletics Hall of Fame in September 2010.

Reach Pat Harty at 339-7370 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

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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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