UI, Chris Doyle reach separation agreement

Doyle has been on administrative leave since June 6 following allegations of racism and mistreatment by several former players.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa players walk out of the tunnel before a football game between Iowa and Middle Tennessee State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders, 48-3.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

The University of Iowa announced Monday that it has reached a separation agreement with football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

Doyle has been on administrative leave since June 6 after several former Iowa football players claimed there are racial disparities within the Hawkeye football program. Many players specifically mentioned Doyle and said he made racist remarks to them.

As part of the agreement, Doyle will receive 15 months of base salary subject to all applicable withholdings in two separate lump sum payments of $556,249.50 on Aug. 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021. Doyle will also receive health and dental premiums from the university at his current coverage levels for 15 months.

Doyle voluntarily agreed to resign, according to the agreement. The agreement also states it is not a “resignation in lieu of termination.”

“Iowa City has been home to our family for 21 years,” Doyle said in a release following the agreement. “I am grateful Iowa football provided an opportunity to work with incredible players, coaches, and support staff.  I have worked diligently to make a positive impact on the lives of student-athletes, support them as they speak out, and look forward to continued growth. I am confident that my record and character will be confirmed in the course of the independent review. The University and I have reached an agreement and it is time to move on from Iowa football. My family and I are looking forward to the next chapter.”

Raimond Braithwaite will continue as interim director of the football strength and conditioning program.

According to a release by the athletic department, the University of Iowa Office of General Counsel has engaged the Kansas City Law firm Husch Blackwell to conduct an independent review of issues and allegations relating to racial disparities within the football program.

Dozens of former Iowa players started speaking out June 5 with allegations of racism and mistreatment within the Hawkeye football program. Former Iowa offensive lineman and current Chicago Bear James Daniels sparked the conversation.

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

In a statement released on Twitter June 7, Doyle denied ever making any racist comments.

“I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do,” Doyle said in a statement. “There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and like every American citizen, can do better. At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race. I do not make racist comments and I don’t tolerate people who do.”

Doyle was entering his 22nd year as the strength and conditioning coach for the Iowa football program. His $800,000 salary last year made him the highest paid strength coach in all of college football.

As a strength and conditioning professional, Doyle has worked with over 200 student-athletes who have advanced to the professional ranks in the NFL, NHL, and NBA.

Under Doyle, Iowa has become known as a developmental program, turning low-rated recruits into contributors. Iowa has had 64 football players drafted over the past 17 years, with nine first-round selections. In the past 14 years, 76 Hawkeyes signed undrafted free agent contracts in the NFL and five former walk-ons have been selected in the NFL Draft.

In 2012, Doyle was presented with the certification of Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the CSCCa. The certification is considered the highest honor that can be achieved in the coaching profession of strength and conditioning.

Prior to coming to Iowa City, Doyle was a three-year starter on the offensive line at Boston University from 1986-88. In 1990 Doyle served as a student assistant for the program.

Following his time at Boston University, Doyle was a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1990 and Notre Dame in 1991. Doyle worked with the offensive line at Notre Dame under Joe Moore — one of Kirk Ferentz’s coaching mentors.

From 1992-95, Doyle served as offensive line coach at Holy Cross.

Doyle was assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Wisconsin from 1996-98. He oversaw the training programs for both the football and the hockey teams during his time in Madison. The football team appeared in two bowl games during Doyle’s tenure, while the hockey team won the WCHA championship.

The University of Utah hired Doyle as director of strength and conditioning in 1998. The Utah men’s basketball team played in the national championship game under Doyle’s direction.

Despite a track record of success, Doyle’s job at Iowa was previously under question in 2011.

In January of 2011, 13 Iowa football players were hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis — a rapid destruction of skeletal muscle that releases proteins into the bloodstream, which hinders the kidney’s ability to clear toxins — after a high-intensity workout led by Doyle.

The state Board of Regents commissioned a panel to examine the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis in the football program and the athletic department’s response. The five-person panel found no negligence with the coaches or staff.

Three months after the rhabdomyolysis incident, Ferentz named Doyle the recipient of the team’s inaugural assistant coach of the year award.

In January 2016, former Hawkeye William Lowe — one of the players struck by rhabdomyolysis — was paid a $15,000 settlement by the university over his lawsuits that claimed the program was negligent in medical care and supervision.

Doyle’s youngest son, Dillon, announced June 8 that he was entering the transfer portal after spending the past two seasons with the Iowa football program. He appeared in four games and played mostly on special teams before redshirting in 2018. Last season, he received playing time on defense at linebacker and appeared in every game. Dillon Doyle was expected to start at linebacker for Iowa next season.

Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta is holding a press conference at 1 p.m. Monday. Follow The Daily Iowan for updates.