After creating the job opening, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz stepped away from the interview process that led to the hiring of his son as an assistant and will not evaluate his performance or set his salary, according to documents released Wednesday.
The university released a memo from athletics director Gary Barta detailing a plan to manage the conflict of interest between Brian Ferentz and his father, which is required under a school policy that discourages nepotism in hiring, salary and other employment decisions. In the document, Barta took credit for the decision to recruit and hire the younger Ferentz and said he would be his supervisor going forward.
The school announced last month that it hired Brian Ferentz away from the New England Patriots to coach the Hawkeyes offensive line. Brian Ferentz, 28, played for the Hawkeyes from 2002-05 and spent the last four years with the Patriots, serving as tight ends coach last season.
''I was very interested in pursuing Brian Ferentz to become a member of our football staff due to his strong experience and success in the professional coaching ranks,'' Barta wrote to Sue Buckley, the university's vice president for human resources, on Feb. 17. ''I worked through UI policies and procedures and we were subsequently able to convince Brian to apply.''
While qualified for the job, it was not clear until Wednesday how Brian Ferentz's hiring complied with a university policy that says hiring involving blood relatives ''should be avoided where possible, and otherwise disclosed and managed'' to ensure employees are treated fairly.
The policy says that any hiring that moves forward despite a conflict must have a ''sound institutional reason'' for existing and a management plan in which the relative with decision-making power is removed from all decisions affecting the other's employment. If an acceptable management plan can't be developed within six months, one of the related individuals must leave the university.
Such plans are typically considered personnel records that are not subject to Iowa's open records law, but Kirk and Brian Ferentz agreed to release the plan in this case after The Associated Press requested it, university records custodian Steve Parrott said. He said Brian Ferentz's employment contract was not complete and could not be released.
School spokesman Tom Moore said university officials signed off on Barta's plan and were confident the relationship could be managed.
''It's clear that all the university's policies were followed, which makes us confident everything has proceeded as is supposed to,'' he said.
The offensive line position came open after Kirk Ferentz reassigned longtime coach Reese Morgan after last season to the defensive line to replace Rick Kaczenski, who left for a similar job at Nebraska. Ferentz said at a news conference last month he believed Morgan was best to develop an inexperienced group of defensive linemen but acknowledged the move wasn't Morgan's choice.
''Fair to say he was a little surprised on that one. But I guess I've got some executive privilege. I exercised it,'' Ferentz said.
Asked the same day whether Brian Ferentz would join his staff, he seemed open to that possibility but that his son had ''a pretty good job right now.''
''We're open to anything right now, anybody that's out there that has a chance to really help our football team,'' he said. He added later: ''One thing I'm pretty sure, I'm really confident we're going to get a good guy or we wouldn't have moved Reese.''
Two weeks later, the school announced Brian Ferentz's hiring.
In the memo, Barta said Brian Ferentz's application was approved for the interview pool. Barta said he interviewed the four applicants and Kirk Ferentz ''purposely did not participate'' in that process.
''At the conclusion of the interviews it was apparent to me that Brian's credentials and candidacy were worthy of recommending for hire,'' Barta wrote.
Barta said he was able to supervise and evaluate Brian Ferentz since he attends games and practices. He said he would conduct an annual performance review for Brian Ferentz at the end of each season, which would include feedback from his father and other staff members, and determine his compensation.
Ferentz, who is beginning his 14th year as head coach, has not shied away from involving his family in the program. One of his other sons, junior James Ferentz, is the team's starting center. Another, Steve Ferentz, is expected to walk-on as a freshman next fall. They'll be coached by their older brother and their dad.