Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz says he has spoken to several former players to discuss alleged racial disparities within the program.
An independent review of the strength and conditioning program is underway and longtime strength coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave after several former Hawkeyes players made accusations on social media.
“Our program is demanding and it has been demanding form the start. Players I talk to and heard from are largely appreciative of that. Appreciative of a program where they can come in work hard and show improvement and excel,” Ferentz said. “One big point of distinction, coaching, and life really, but in coaching, there is a difference in being demanding and then also potentially being demeaning. And for any player to feel demeaning is not acceptable.”
Ferentz is putting together an advisory committee of former players in the hopes problems like this don’t go undetected. “And I think that is really one of the big lessons I’ve learned here, I’ve got to do a better job of proactively asking questions, seeking things our, asking more hard questions. Really, the bottom line is I can ask more hard questions and need to. And that’s really the concept of the advisory committee — is to do a better job of that,” according to Ferentz
Ferentz was asked if there is a “culture of fear” in the program that prevented players from speaking out until they left the program. “Clearly there is not enough candid conversation or the players haven’t felt safe enough to visit freely or give me feedback,” he says. “Again to complain we are working too hard that is one thing, the line is feeling respected, and maybe feeling like they were demeaned. I owe it to Chris and I owe it to our players to investigate as thoroughly as I possibly can.”
Ferentz says he has discussed all facets of the program with former players, even his effectiveness as head coach.
“I did ask multiple players if they feel like I am part of the problem or if they feel we can’t move forward with me here. Then I’d appreciate that feedback,” Ferentz said. “That’s not what I’ve heard thus far. My commitment is to us to having a good program and a healthy team and improving the environment. That’s what everybody wants to see. All the former players I’ve visited with — white or black — just want to see us improve in all areas.”
Doyle released a statement on Sunday saying there have been statements about his behavior that are not true and that he does not make racist comments and does not tolerate anyone who does.