Kirk Ferentz speaks on Chris Doyle, allegations of racial disparities within program

Ferentz said he is thankful that former players had the courage to speak out.


Katina Zentz

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz looks to the stands during the football game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz met with the Iowa media Sunday on a video conference to discuss allegations of systemic racism and mistreatment that have been made by former players against the program.

Dozens of former players have claimed there are racial disparities within the Iowa football program. Strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle was named specifically by several former players as being part of the problem. He was placed on administrative leave Saturday and there will be an independent review of the allegations against him.

“I want to thank the former players who have had the courage to speak out about their experiences in our program,” Ferentz said. “And I’m very, very sorry for any hardships that any of them endured. If they didn’t feel safe to speak freely, that’s certainly something I feel regretful about.”

Only minutes before Ferentz’s video conference started, Doyle released his own statement despite saying he was told to “remain silent.” Doyle claimed that he had not made any racist comments during his 21 years at Iowa and that he doesn’t tolerate those who do.

“I owe it to Chris and I owe it to our players to investigate as thoroughly as I possibly can,” Ferentz said. “And that’s what the advisory will do too.”

Ferentz’s son and Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has also been named specifically by former players who are speaking out. Brian Ferentz was not placed on administrative leave like Doyle, however.

“The level of comments regarding the two are very different from my perspective,” Ferentz said. “Regarding Brian, the things that I’ve heard about or read about I was aware of and I’ve had discussions with people involved in that. I think there are two different levels there and that’s how it stands right now.”

Due to potential concerns with nepotism, Brian Ferentz reports directly to Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta.

Former Iowa offensive lineman and current member of the NFL’s Chicago Bears James Daniels made the initial Tweet about racial disparities in the program Friday night. Since then, Ferentz said he has been in contact with several former players and asked them how to move forward and improve the program.

“I have had a lot of conversations with former players, both Black and White,” Ferentz said. “I certainly learned of the frustration of many of them. Frustration, anger, just about their experience here overall. I just want to ensure every player that their voices were heard. Their anger, their frustration, has been noted, and we intend to do something moving forward to improve things.”

Ferentz said he has formed an advisory committee, which will be made up of former Iowa football players. Former Iowa defensive tackle and eight-year NFL veteran Mike Daniels will act as the chair of the committee.

“This will be a diverse group that will be able to share without judgement so we can all examine where we are today and how we can have a better environment tomorrow,” Ferentz said.

Following the accusations made against the program by former players, Ferentz said he asked his current players if they felt a change in culture could occur with him as head coach.

“I did ask multiple players if they feel like I’m part of the problem or if we can’t move forward with me here,” Ferentz said. “That’s not what I’ve heard thus far. My commitment is to us having a good program and a healthy team.”

Ferentz said the changes to the program’s culture will start with him.

“If there’s something healthy about this, it’s going to cause more movement forward for us as a program,” Ferentz said. “I’m very confident of that. I think our players are wanting to open up, I think they’re wanting to talk more, probably more so than anyone in my 21 years. And we look forward to starting that process, and that will begin tomorrow with our players.

“However you break it down, I’m the one who’s responsible. I’m the one who’s got accountability. We’ve all got ownership, but I’m the one that’s accountable.”

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