Former Hawkeye James Daniels calls out ‘racial disparities’ within Iowa football program

Daniels said on Twitter that Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long in the Iowa program.


Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz watches his players swarm the field before a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders 48-3.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

Former Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels Tweeted Friday night that there are racial disparities within the Iowa football program that must be addressed.

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program,” Daniels Tweeted. “Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.”

Several other former Hawkeye football players responded to and agreed with what Daniels said.

Daniels previously said Wednesday that if Iowa decided to take a knee during the national anthem next season, it would bring a cultural change both to the program and the state.

This Tweet came after Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said on a video conference that he would be in support of the team taking a knee during the anthem next season as long as everyone did it together.

“We want them to be uniform, whether it is their uniform, or the way they do things, the way they conduct themselves,” Ferentz said. “To me, there’s a certain game-day protocol, if you will. In conjunction with that, I’ve always kind of felt like the sports arena is not a time to shine a light on an individual cause or an individual thing. No matter what the topic might be, that’s kind of been my approach.

“As we move forward right now, I think it’s important that we’re all together. But, whether it’s appropriate or not in a sports venue, that’s a discussion to be had. And certainly when we come back, we’ll talk about that as a team as well. I guess if I were to frame it out, I guess my goal, or my hopes, as a coach, is whatever we decide to do, and if it’s pertaining to that particular thing, I would just like to see our team to be together. Everybody’s taking a knee, or everybody’s at attention. Either way. The big thing is to be together, to me, on game day and present a uniform appearance as a football team.”

This Tweet by Daniels was also met with support from former Hawkeyes.

Faith Ekakitie and other former Hawkeyes have specifically raised concern about Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

Manny Rugamba, who played football at Iowa before transferring in 2018, Tweeted out specific troubling experiences he had with Doyle.

“I was lifting in the weight room and one of the lifts we had to do was open and close your hand in a bowl of rice, while walking to the bowl of rice one of my black teammates and close friends just left the rice station and was at the bench rack,” Rugamba said on Twitter. “After benching there was some rice left on the back of the bar. Coach Doyle then says, ‘Wtf is this sh*t clean it up.’ The player walks over to clean it up and walks away from Doyle. Doyle then says, ‘why you walking away with all that swagger I’ll put you back on the streets.’ The kid comes from a happy home with both parents.

“A separate incident happened before one of our team lifts. He asked the same player where he was the night before the player says, ‘my girl house.’ Coach Doyle then pulls his pants halfway down to sag off his butt turns his hat backwards puts one hand in his pants and starts to strut while mocking the player saying, ‘I was at my girls house.’

“At 18-21 years old seeing others be treated like this made you walk around the football facility on egg shells. Unable to be yourself constantly trying to fit the Iowa Culture caused anxiety that could be unbearable at times with your dream and career on the line.

“As a player who transferred from Iowa, I hope this does not come off as spiteful. Iowa gave me memories, fiends, and opportunities that I only dreamed of and I am forever grateful for my time there. I wish nothing but well for all Hawkeyes present and past that is why I spoke up, for the future players that get the same great opportunities that I had.”

Ferentz released a statement after some of these tweets started to emerge.

“I am saddened to hear these comments from some of our former players,” Ferentz said in a statement. “While I wish they had reached out to us directly, I am thankful that these players decided to share their experiences now. As I said earlier this week, the best way to affect change is by listening. I have started reaching out to them on an individual basis to hear their stories first hand. Making change that matters involves an open dialogue and possibly some tough conversations. I am glad to have the opportunity to do just that. As a staff and as leaders, we will listen to take to heart the messages we hear.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.