The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled against a former University of Iowa dean who filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully fired for his handling of a controversial incident involving student athletes.
Phillip Jones had been dean of students for about 27 years when he was fired in 2008. His firing followed an investigation of the university’s handling of the alleged 2007 sexual assault of a female student athlete — in a university dorm — by two members of the Hawkeye football team.
Jones filed a lawsuit against the university and the St. Louis law firm that conducted the investigation of the incident. Jones has argued the law firm’s investigation made false statements about him, plus he charged University of Iowa president Sally Mason made defamatory statements about him.
The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the district court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, ruling Mason acted “well within” her authority and had a “legitimate…reason” to fire Jones.
Mason also fired Marcus Mills, the university’s general counsel, when she fired Jones. Mills filed a wrongful termination lawsuit, too, but it went through the federal courts. A federal district court judge dismissed Mills’ lawsuit in February.
In 2011, former University of Iowa football player Abe Satterfield pled guilty to assault with intent to inflict serious injury — a misdemeanor — and agreed to testify against former teammate Cedric Everson. A jury convicted Everson of misdemeanor assault. Both players had been suspended from the University of Iowa football team a few days after the incident and transferred to other schools.