Iowa AD Gary Barta: No additional personnel changes following review of Hawkeye football program

Brian Ferentz and other coaches mentioned in allegations by former players will keep their jobs.


Tate Hildyard

Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta speaks at a press conference July 30.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said at a press conference Thursday that no additional personnel changes will be made to the Hawkeye football coaching staff following the investigation into allegations of racism and bullying within the program.

Barta’s announcement comes after the Kansas City law firm Husch Blackwell released a 26-page report of its findings Thursday morning after reviewing the program the past seven weeks.

The report found that the program’s rules “perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity,” and that the program over-monitored players to the point that they experienced heightened anxiety and maintained a culture that allowed a “small group of coaches” to demean players.

According to the report, current and former players were overwhelmingly positive in their evaluation of the coaching staff, with three exceptions. Many current and former players told investigators that three members of the coaching staff abused their power and verbally abused and bullied players.

Specific allegations about current and former employees were not included in the report and were provided separately to the university.

Former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle — who was at the center of many of the allegations made against the program — reached a separation agreement with the University of Iowa that was announced June 15. Doyle will make $1.1 million from that deal.

But several former players said in the report that Doyle should not be a “scapegoat for the systemic issues in the program.”

Other coaches, including offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and linebackers coach Seth Wallace, were also named specifically in allegations by former players.

Brian Ferentz, son of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, reports directly to Barta due to Iowa’s nepotism laws.

It has been previously speculated that Brian Ferentz could succeed his father, who is 64, as Iowa’s next head coach. Barta declined to comment on whether the information provided by Husch Blackwell would impact Brian Ferentz’s outlook as a head coach.

“I really do have conversations with Brian because of the fact that his dad is the head coach, but beyond that, again, we’ll take anything in those files and we’ll react to them based on what’s in those letters and react to them based on those letters,” Barta said.

One of the former Iowa players to speak out against Brian Ferentz is defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson, who tweeted June 5 that “Coach Doyle is the problem in [Iowa’s] building. And so is Brian Ferentz. Things won’t progress until those two fix themselves. They know they’re a problem. [Kirk Ferentz] isn’t. I respect coach Ferentz wholeheartedly. It’s the other [Ferentz] in the building.”

Former Iowa offensive lineman Jack Kallenberger accused Wallace of bullying him due to a learning disability.

Barta said it was ultimately his decision not to remove anyone else, aside from Doyle, from the football staff. He said he has read the personnel reports provided by Husch Blackwell and an internal follow-up will take place.

“Based on that information — it was anything where there was an allegation that was directed toward an individual, and so based on that information, the first thing I’m going to share,” Barta said. “We will and have begun the process of internal follow-up. That internal follow-up will occur privately and it will follow university HR policies and procedures. And then more broadly in terms of education and training moving forward, football has been included in and involved in training for the whole athletic department.”

Barta cited confidentiality laws as to why more information was not released on the identities of the coaches who had documentation added to their personnel files

Kirk Ferentz was asked Thursday at the press conference what Brian has learned since allegations started to come out in early June. Iowa’s 22nd-year head coach did not speak specifically to Brian, but instead to his entire staff.

“I think we have a really good staff, and we’ve got a good coaching staff, support staff,” Kirk Ferentz said. “I’m appreciative of the support we’ve gotten institutionally, and I have every confidence we’re going to move forward and do fine. But I’d like to think everybody has been affected. I would like to think that. If anybody feels they didn’t have any role, even if it was one player not feeling good about their experience, then that’s one too many. We’ve got to try to do a better job.”

Part of the report indicates that former players felt that Doyle had too much power within the program, and that his actions could go unchecked. Barta and Kirk Ferentz said Thursday that some of the job responsibilities within the strength and conditioning program will now be spread out among several coaches.

Other issues that players spoke about in the report include stress related to the program’s sleep band requirement, drug testing, and making weight.

Kirk Ferentz said that sleep bands, which players wore at night to track their sleep, will now be optional for upperclassmen. The information from the bands was tracked and reviewed daily by the strength and conditioning staff. In the report, players said they would be “called out” if they did not sleep well and that wearing these bands led to anxiety.

The bands will remain a requirement for first-year players “in the vein that we’re trying to educate you from coming here with poor sleep habits.”

“In other aspects of our program, we’ve instituted player suggestions, starting with just game day protocols, so when we do get the green light to play, we’ll be able to institute those,” Kirk Ferentz said. “They’ve also included lifting restrictions on social media, dress code, our approach to body weights, increasing the amount of time that we meet, talk and listen to one another as a team.”

Barta said the program’s drug testing protocols were reviewed after the report said Black players felt they were subject to unfair testing. He said that the protocols are where they need to be, but the program will make sure it is more transparent with players.

The report says that current players feel that the program has implemented positive changes in recent weeks, and that they are “cautiously optimistic” that the coaching staff is listening and will continue to do so moving forward.

Barta said June 15, the day he announced the UI had hired Husch Blackwell, that he was confident in Kirk Ferentz’s ability to lead the Iowa football program moving forward.

He expressed that again on Thursday.

“I have great confidence in Kirk, and it all starts with him,” Barta said. “His willingness to improve the culture in the areas that have been identified. He sets the tone, the expectations, and then needs to hold everybody accountable. I have been grateful and not surprised but impressed with the amount of energy and passion and work he’s put into this going back to June, and we all agree that this is just the beginning.”