Several current University of Iowa football players are belting out the truth behind Iowa’s football program. Behind the makeup, the foundation of the program alienates anyone who doesn’t fit the description of an Iowa football player. Under the supervision of head coach Kirk Ferentz, several complaints are surfacing involving the mistreatment of current and former black football players.
Chris Doyle, who’s been with Iowa the last 21 years as a strength and conditioning coach, has been placed on administrative leave pending an external review. Since Friday, a large number of former Hawkeyes football players have spoken out about negative experiences they and other black players had while at Iowa and under Doyle’s supervision.
Who knew that accepting a football scholarship or walking on at Iowa was basically signing up for boot camp? Chris Doyle stepped on the fingers of players before weightlifting, broke them down verbally and restricted them from even Tweeting—basically every college kid’s form of communication. He told players that he “was going to send them back to the ghetto,” and makes fun of players for their learning disabilities. Some players described the football environment at Iowa as “oppressive” or “intrusive” and the reason many players have transferred out of the program over the years that certainly doesn’t seem like a family. Ferentzs’ own son, Brian has also been accused of being a problem in Iowa’s “Boy’s Club.” “The level of comments regarding the two are very different from my perspective,” Kirk Ferentz said.
Were the random drug tests at Iowa really random? Why weren’t white players suspended for missing team meetings like the black players were? Questions like this raise concern about how football players of color at Iowa are treated compared to their white teammates.
Iowa football players are sick of it and are coming together to demand change. Players were welcomed back to Iowa’s practice facility on Monday morning, the first time in more than 80 days. They’re excited to be back, but instead of getting ready for the season, they’re game planning to change the culture at Iowa. Iowa safety Kaevon Merriweather took to Twitter to say, “I would rather play in front of 1,000 fans who care about us as people outside of football and what we are standing for than 70,000 fans who only care about us when we are in uniform and on the field entertaining them.”
Like the rest of the world, Iowa football wants to be inclusive. It’s currently not. If Iowa does not change it’s football culture, it’ll hurt recruiting and perhaps demean the historic program. Ferentz wants to address the issues within his program moving forward. That is, if he’s not a part of the problem. Calling it a “defining moment” for the Iowa football program, Ferentz also announced the creation of an advisory committee that will be led by former Iowa player James Daniels. It may not look good for Iowa right now, but by reconstructing the culture of the Iowa football program, the team will set the bar high for other teams to follow. You would hope that this type of coaching mentality dissipates as people become more aware of how you should treat people. Your move, Iowa.