Kirk Ferentz ‘surprised’ by allegations from Akrum Wadley, says some of his comments were ‘flat-out not true’

The former Iowa running back called his time with the Hawkeye football program a “living nightmare” in June.


Tate Hilyard

Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz speaks at a press conference July 30. Ferentz discussed the findings of the external review of the Iowa football program.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

Kirk Ferentz has refrained from commenting on specific allegations made against the football program in recent weeks, but Thursday he addressed what former Iowa running back Akrum Wadley said earlier this summer.

On June 29, Wadley called his time with the Iowa football program from 2013-17 a “living nightmare” and said that he regretted being a Hawkeye.

Wadley also accused Ferentz of threatening to take away his meal card and said that the card was eventually taken away.

“I had to call my mother from New Jersey at 10 or 11 pm at night because I was hungry to order Domino’s Pizza for me,” Wadley said. “Or I would have to go to a fan’s house earlier at night to eat because there was no way I was going to be able to make it through the next day vomiting, being weak, and be able to make it through school and practice that day.”

At a press conference Thursday, where he was addressing the findings of an external review of the program, Ferentz said he was surprised by Wadley’s comments.

“Some of the things were just flat-out not true,” Ferentz said. “Not true. I mean, we have never held back a [meal] card from any player. I’m not a great record keeper. [Iowa assistant director of football operations] Ben Hansen is meticulous. Never happened.”

Wadley, who is from New Jersey, also alleged that at a press conference before Iowa’s appearance in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, Ferentz was asked about the team going to a city, New York, where Wadley could show the team around. Wadley said Ferentz responded, “That’s the worst thing about it.”

According to a transcript provided by ASAP Sports, Ferentz responded to that question with the following:

“Wait until all his friends and new friends start calling him for tickets. Then he may not beam — it’s not always easy going home for ballgames. That’s the next thing he’s going to be challenged with. I think for he and Ihmir [Smith-Marsette], certainly those are two guys that grew up pretty close to Yankee Stadium. It’s got to be exciting and I’m sure their families are very, very excited. It’s always neat to have that kind of opportunity to play in Yankee Stadium. I’m sure those guys will be hopefully at their best.”

Earlier in the press conference, Ferentz had said that “Probably the scariest thing right now is to think that Akrum Wadley might be our tour guide during this trip. That’s a little frightening to me.”

Ferentz said Thursday that he stands by what he said at that press conference.

According to Ferentz, he helped Wadley land a roster spot in the XFL after the former 1,000-yard rusher at Iowa failed to stick on a roster in the NFL and AAF.

“As recently as May 26, his mom and I were having good conversations,” Ferentz said. “I had no sense it was that bad, quite frankly… [I had] conversations with his mom about trying to get him placed in the XFL, work that probably his agent should have been doing, but trying to help and I knew some people in the XFL. I think he went to Atlanta as a result of that conversation. So yeah, I was surprised.”

Ferentz did not address Wadley’s claims that Brian Ferentz on multiple occasions asked him if he was going to “rob” a gas station or a liquor store when he saw Wadley wearing his team-issued wool hat that covered his face in cold weather.

Ferentz declined to say if Wadley was one of the former players he’s spoken to since allegations of racism and mistreatment against the program surfaced. He said those conversations will be kept private.