An external review of the Iowa football program found an environment in which many black players felt bullied and humiliated, and recommended coach Kirk Ferentz and athletic director Gary Bart to take steps to improve the culture.
Iowa commissioned a survey conducted by Kansas City-based Husch Blackwell, based on allegations by more than 60 former players in early June about racial inequality in the football program. The review found many positive comments from current and former players against Ferentz, but identified three members of the coaching staff, whether in the field or from the strengthening and conditioning program, who “abused their power and verbally abused and harassed players.”;
On June 14, Iowa reached a separation agreement with longtime strength coach and conditioner Chris Doyle, who has been the subject of many allegations of ill-treatment of former black players. Doyle, who denied any offenses based on race, received approximately $ 1.1 million (15-month salary) under the deal.
Husch Blackwell said he provided four personnel reports summarizing specific allegations of ill-treatment of current and former Iowa football employees.
Several players told investigators that Iowa’s race problems were not “just Chris Doyle’s problem” and that Doyle should not be a “scapegoat” for wider problems. Ferentz and Barta have a press conference scheduled for 2:00 PM ET.
“I have read the report and it is clear that climate and culture must and will change as part of our football agenda,” University President Bruce Harreld said in a statement. “Our student students must have the ability to be faithful to themselves, and we cannot and will not tolerate a systematic process that suppresses authenticity.”
Ferentz, who has been leading the Iowa program since 1999, said in a statement that the report “brings us face to face allegations of unequal treatment, where our uniformity culture has made many black players feel unable to show up.” . as their authentic self.
“I want to apologize for the pain and frustration they felt at a time when I had the confidence to help each of them become a better player and a better person.”
Husch Blackwell spoke to 111 people, including 45 current and 29 former Iowa football players and 36 current and former program employees. The review covered areas such as the differential treatment of black players, the retention of black players, allegations concerning the prospects of NFL proposals and the overall racial climate in Iowa.
The coach told investigators that he did not believe Iowa was leading a racist program, but was injured by one or two coaches who had too much energy. The same coach repeated the accusations of many players, claiming that it was more difficult for Black players because they had to adapt to different standards.
“The second coach said the players told him that the Iowa Way means you behave like a white person and you can’t be yourself,” the report said.
Several interviewees told investigators that they thought the Iowa team’s rules were aimed at black players, while one said coaches used restrictions to “remove black culture.” Many former players claimed that black players in Iowa were subject to tougher and more frequent discipline than their white teammates.
According to the report, the coach said that in Ferentz, “several times in the last four years, he has brought differences in the treatment of black players” without changing it. ” A special report by the Iowa Diversity Group on Athletics also cited an employee who said black players were given harsher penalties and did not feel well in the football building. Ferentz told investigators that in 2019 he had read the report of the Diversity Working Group and shared “relevant information” with his staff.
The coach also told Husch Blackwell that black players had different standards for weight loss and weight goals, but did not inform anyone “for fear of retaliation.”
Several former players described the verbal abuse they received from coaches, including a former black player who told investigators that “each black player seemed to have hit two on the day we entered Iowa. … I was either a criminal or a stupid mother — er this boy. ‘ “
Investigators Husch Blackwell found that many players had positive comments about Ferentz and their position coaches, but many still felt “unhappy and unwelcome” in Iowa.
Tom VanHaaren contributed to this report.