IOWA CITY (AP) — The University of Iowa reassigned a longtime athletics department official Friday after what the school’s president called lapses in supervision of an academic counselor accused of improperly touching athletes for years.
Athletic Director Gary Barta said Friday that associate athletics director Fred Mims would no longer oversee the areas of student services and compliance. Barta said what Mims oversaw for years — providing academic and support services to help its 650 athletes graduate and ensuring compliance with university, Big Ten and NCAA rules — would be reorganized into two departments.
Mims, a mainstay in the department for more than 30 years, will help with the transition and then will continue as an associate athletic director and a senior member of the staff, Barta said in an interview. His job will include mentoring, counseling, student-athlete discipline and code of conduct issues.
Mims’ university biography says he has been an associate athletics director since 1989 and also has served as assistant baseball coach and athletic counselor.
The university has been criticized for its handling of Peter Gray, who resigned earlier this month after an internal investigation found that he had long made some uncomfortable by giving frequent massages, hugs and other touches to students and athletes. Gray had worked as associate director of athletics student services since 2002, reporting to Mims. A confidential report concluded the behavior dated back to Gray’s earlier employment with the university from 1993 to 1995.
President Sally Mason apologized earlier this month for what she called an “isolated breakdown” in the university’s commitment to protect students. She ordered an audit into Mims’ unit to determine what happened, a review of university hiring policies and additional sexual harassment training for athletics counselors.
Barta said he is talking with two current staff members about taking over the new compliance and student services departments. He also said he’s been considering the split for a year or two but that the Gray situation revealed issues that needed to be addressed.
“It’s become best practice across the country to separate these two departments and it’s something I’ve been thinking about, but when I learned about this problem in early October in academic services the timing just crystalized for me and I decided that I needed to do this now,” he said.