State Treasurer Roby Smith. (Treasurer’s office photo)

A state official who signed off on the legal settlement with a dozen former Hawkeye football players says he applauds the decision to have Iowa’s Athletics Department cover the entire cost.

State Treasurer Roby Smith, a member of the State Appeals Board, voted to approve the settlement Tuesday. State tax dollars were to cover nearly half of the more than $4 million payment to black players who alleged there was racial discrimination in the Hawkeye football program.

Smith, in a written statement this afternoon, revealed the Iowa Attorney General’s staff told him before the vote that the University of Iowa and the Board of Regents were refusing the pay the full amount, but advised that voting no would force the case to trial and that could cost taxpayers far more.

Smith said requiring the Iowa Athletics Department to cover the entire settlement is the right course, but Smith is renewing his call for the university’s president to reexamine the University of Iowa’s relationship with Hawkeye athletics director Gary Barta.

State Auditor Rob Sand, another member of the State Appeals Board, voted against the settlement because it’s the fourth discrimination settlement during Barta’s tenure at Iowa. Sand today said he’d like to see a copy of the two million dollar check the Iowa Athletics Department writes to the state so taxpayers aren’t on the hook for it. “I am delighted that President Wilson listened to the concerns that lead to my vote against the settlement,” Sand said late this morning. “I am delighted she listened to taxpayers who wanted real accountability.”

A bill pending in the Iowa House would forbid state tax dollars from being spent on any future legal settlement over Hawkeye athletics. The state treasurer says legislators should consider expanding the bill to prohibit tax dollars from covering “all claims” against the three state universities.

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