The “Iowa way’’ left a number of Black players on the Iowa football team seeing themselves as being treated harshly, but a review of the program also largely clears coach Kirk Ferentz as being at the core of Iowa’s issues.
The report by the Kansas City-based law firm of Husch Blackwell was released by the university Thursday morning and it echoed many complaints raised by former Hawkeye players over the past two months.
“In sum, the program’s rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity,’’ the report concludes. “The program over-monitored players to the point that they experienced heighted anxiety and maintained a culture that allowed a small group of coaches to demean players.’’
In addition to the report which is 28 pages in length, Husch Blackwell also provided the university with four “personnel reports’’ about unspecified current and former employees of the department that will remain confidential.
That means only former strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle, who accepted a $1.1 million separation agreement with the university on June 14, will be removed from his position.
Doyle was most frequently singled out by former players for abusive treatment.
Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and linebackers coach Seth Wallace were both mentioned in public complaints lodged by players over the past two months.
Iowa president Bruce Harreld said the report indicates that change must occur within the Iowa football program.
“I have read the report and it is clear that the climate and culture must and will change within our football program,’’ Harreld said. “Our student-athletes must have the ability to be true to themselves, and we cannot and will not tolerate a systemic process that inhibits authenticity.’’
Harreld said the identified issues in the report will be addressed.
“We have and will continue to address personnel matters, and we have started and will continue the needed change in our football program,’’ Harreld said.
Statement from Kirk Ferentz
In a statement Thursday morning, Kirk Ferentz apologized to players who were impacted.
“This review brings us face to face with allegations of uneven treatment, where our culture that mandated uniformity caused many Black players to feel they were unable to show up as their authentic selves,’’ Ferentz said. “I want to apologize for the pain and frustration they felt at a time when I was trusted to help each of them become a better player and a better person.’’
Ferentz and director athletics Gary Barta are scheduled to appear at a news conference this afternoon.
The report indicated that several current and former players shared a view that some coaches have used the program’s foundation of discipline and accountability “to perpetuate an environment that bullies and demeans athletes, especially Black athletes.’’
The report encourages director of athletics Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz to “create action steps aimed at improving the culture of the program, eliminating biases, encouraging student-athletes to report concerns of mistreatment and amplifying the university’s policy statement against retaliation within the football program.’’
The report said the law firm interviewed 74 current and former Hawkeyes and most players commented positively about the leadership Kirk Ferentz provides the program.
It indicated that the players “were uniform in their belief that the environment in the football program has improved significantly since the inception of this review.’’