The University of Iowa is investigating a report that a black student was beaten by a group of white men in a racially motivated attack, it said on Wednesday.

Marcus Owens, a freshman from Naperville, Illinois, was beaten after he left a bar on Saturday night by three white men who yelled racial abuse at him, according to an ABC affiliate in Chicago.

The attack left Owens with a damaged eye socket. He also had his front teeth knocked out and needed about a dozen stitches to close a cut on his lip, ABC-7 in Chicago said.

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The university was "deeply disturbed" and was seeking more details of the attack, officials said in Twitter posts after being contacted by the broadcaster.

Owen had just left an off-campus bar when three men approached and began punching him, his uncle Darrell Owens told the news station.

"This is 2016. You shouldn't expect this to happen," he said.

Owens was released from hospital on Monday, the station reported. Local and university police are investigating, it said.