Former Black Iowa Football Players Demand Firing Of Coaching Staff Over Alleged Racial Issues
A group of former Black Iowa University football players sent a letter to the university earlier this month demanding the firing of current head coach Kirk Ferentz as well assistant coach Brian Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta over allegations of racial discrimination. The group of players is also demanding a $20 million settlement from the university.
According to the Des Moines Register, the misdeeds took place while the eight players were with the program. The 21-page letter was sent to the school on October 5. They are reportedly being represented by a civil rights attorney in Tulsa and have threatened a lawsuit against the school if their demands aren’t met by the University by Monday (October 19).
Dozens of former Iowa football players have spoken out in recent months of the experiences they’ve had playing for the longtime coach. Many of them said they felt they were unfairly treated and unable to be themselves because they were Black. They’re also demanding the creation of a permanent Black male senior administrator within the athletic department, mandatory anti-racist training for staff members, and a board of advisers with Black players and anti0racist professionals to oversee the program.
The complaints mostly center around strength coach Chris Doyle, who was put on administrative leave after and later reached a separation agreement with the school. Ferentz has previously admitted he had a “blind spot” in his program, and allowed an advisory committee to help improve the culture within. That said, it’s been reported that Ferentz was briefed on racial issues within the team more than a year before the complaints surfaced.
The eight former players include defensive back Maurice Flemming, receiver Andre Harris, running back Marcel Joly, receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, linebacker Aaron Mends, running back Jonathan Parker, linebacker Reggie Spearman and running back Akrum Wadley.
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Iowa president Bruce Herreld, who’s retiring, responded to the player’s statement on Sunday and rejected their demands.
"We appreciate some former athletes sharing insights on their experience while at the University of Iowa,” Harreld said, according to the Register. “Many of their concerns have been reviewed and addressed. And to be clear, any student-athlete that has left the university and did not obtain their degree is welcome to return, and we are here to support them.”
The statement continues: "There are several demands outlined in the letter, and we are proud of the efforts made to date. We have a path forward that includes ideas and recommendations from many current and former students aimed at making the University of Iowa a more inclusive and better place to learn, grow and compete as an athlete. However, the university rejects the demands for money and personnel changes."
Ferentz also replied to the letter in a statement: “I am disappointed to receive this type of demand letter. Due to the threat of litigation, I am not able to address the specific comments made by our former players. As you know, this past summer we made adjustments to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our student-athletes. These changes include both policies and rules, as well as an expanded leadership council of current players and a new advisory committee comprised of former players.
He continued: “I am deeply committed to helping everyone who joins the Hawkeye Football program reach their full potential on and off the field. My focus is now on our current players who are preparing for our first game this Saturday.”