Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz to rework personal diversity advisory committee

The group was formed in summer 2020 to help Ferentz navigate “turbulent times.”


Grace Smith

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz applauds the Military Hero of the Game during a football game between No. 17 Iowa and Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 33-23 at the last home game of the season.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz is restructuring his diversity, equity, and inclusion advisory committee, he said in a letter to parents of current Hawkeye football players. In the letter, Ferentz said he is in the process of inviting new members to join the group.

The advisory committee is Ferentz’s personal group. The 66-year-old noted in his letter to Hawkeye parents that the group is not connected to Iowa Athletics or the University of Iowa in any official capacity. Ferentz explained that he created the initial group of 10 members to help navigate “turbulent times” that began in Summer 2020, when former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and other members of the Hawkeye football program were accused of racism and bullying.

Ferentz’s letter emphasized that the committee is being restructured because several members wanted to step away from the group. Ferentz explained that the members stepping away from the committee are doing so because they feel their work made a real impact. Ferentz’s letter says the members leaving the group also believe the time is right to add new voices to the committee, particularly from recent players.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette initially reported that Ferentz was dissolving the committee. In an email to the group that was obtained by The Gazette, Ferentz noted that it was “time to dissolve the committee as it currently stands.”

Later in the email, Ferentz wrote that he is “giving thought to how we restructure the committee/board in a way that best serves our program going forward.”

According to The Athletic, the previous group consisted of chairman David Porter (who last played in 2002), Jim Caldwell (1976), Leroy Smith (1991), Matt Bowen (1999), Aaron Kampman (2001), Colin Cole (2002), Robert Gallery (2003), Chigoze Ejiasi (2004), Christian Kirksey (2013), Jordan Lomax (2015) and Desmond King (2016).

Porter told The Gazette that he believes the group is being dissolved and restructured because of a few contentious meetings. Porter also said he believes that Ferentz is rethinking because Porter said Iowa needs a new head football coach, coaching staff, and athletic director in a group text chain from Oct. 18. A statement from UI athletics said that Porter’s viewpoints did not impact the decision to rework the advisory group.

Jordan Lomax, a former Hawkeye football defensive back and committee member, tweeted on Sunday that the entire committee does not support Porter’s now-public stance on Iowa’s coaching staff and leadership.

Ferentz’s letter to Hawkeye football parents says the new committee members he selects will be “players who completed their careers not long ago.” The committee was formed in Summer 2020 to help Ferentz address “racial disparities” in his football program. Former players, including offensive lineman James Daniels, pointed out those disparities in June 2020.

Ferentz’s letter to Iowa football parents said the committee has helped him make real changes to his program like dress code relaxation, giving players the choice to stand or kneel during the National Anthem, and allowing athletes to use their Twitter accounts.

Before the committee’s formation, Iowa football players weren’t allowed to use Twitter while on Ferentz’s roster.

A group of 13 former Iowa football players also filed a lawsuit against the University of Iowa in 2020, alleging racially motivated discrimination. The plaintiffs seek $20 million in damages and the dismissal of Ferentz, Hawkeye offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta.

The trial date for the case has been set for May 6-18, 2023.

Kirk Ferentz hasn’t spoken directly to reporters since Jan. 1’s Citrus Bowl Game in Orlando, Florida. The Hawkeyes lost that game to the Kentucky Wildcats, 20-17.

Ferentz received a contract extension Dec. 31, keeping him at Iowa through the 2029 season. Iowa Athletics announced the extension Jan. 14. He’ll be 74 when his contract expires. Ferentz will be paid $7 million annually under his new contract. He will have a base salary of $500,000 with $5.5 million in supplemental compensation and an annual $1 million longevity bonus. 

Iowa football will be kicking off its winter programs soon, with spring practices to follow from late March to early May.

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