Chris Doyle, former Iowa strength coach accused of racism and bullying, hired by Jacksonville Jaguars

A separation agreement between Doyle and the University of Iowa was announced on June 15.


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. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Former Iowa football strength coach Chris Doyle, who was on the Hawkeye coaching staff for 21 years before reaching a separation agreement with the University of Iowa on June 15 amid allegations of racism and mistreatment from former players, has been hired by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars announced via social media on Thursday that Doyle would join head coach Urban Meyer’s staff as the team’s Director of Sport Performance. Meyer, who most recently coached Ohio State’s football team from 2012-18, is in his first year as Jacksonville’s head coach.

On June 5, dozens of former Iowa football players started to speak out with allegations detailing the racist and demeaning behavior they claimed to have experienced in their time as Hawkeyes. Doyle was mentioned by name by several players.

After previously placing Doyle on administrative leave, the UI announced a separation agreement with Doyle on June 15. As part of the agreement, Doyle, whose salary of over $800,000 in 2019 was the highest of any strength coach in college football, received $1.1 million and 15 months of health benefits.

An investigation into the Iowa football program by the law firm Husch Blackwell last summer 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.

After Doyle’s removal and the investigation into the program, Husch Blackwell’s report stated that “Current players were uniform in their belief that the environment in the football program has improved significantly since the inception of this review — both in a general sense and through specific attempts to address or prevent racial inequities. The players expressed hopefulness that these improvements will continue and result in sustained action that will improve the program.”

Doyle faced prior controversy in his Iowa tenure when 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, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz named Doyle the recipient of the team’s inaugural assistant coach of the year award.

Doyle was the only staff member removed from the program as a result of allegations from former players. In a statement released on June 7, Doyle denied ever making racist comments.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported after Doyle’s hire was made public that Meyer said he has known Doyle for 20 years, vetted the hire, and is “confident there will be no issues with Doyle.”

Doyle and Ferentz are among the defendants in a lawsuit filed by 13 Black former Iowa football players in November. These players claim they faced “targeted and discriminatory behavior” in their time with the Iowa football program.