Longtime Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave, pending an independent review, coach Kirk Ferentz announced in a video posted Saturday, while calling this “a defining moment for the Iowa Hawkeye Football program.”
This is a defining moment for the Iowa Hawkeye Football program: pic.twitter.com/ckEH39QVki
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) June 6, 2020
The decision comes after several former Iowa football players spoke out about negative experiences they, and other black players, had while at Iowa and under Doyle’s supervision.
“Over the past 24 hours I have seen some difficult and heartbreaking posts on social media,” Ferentz said in the video. “I appreciate the formers players’ candor and have been reaching out to many of them individually to hear more about their experiences in our program. I am planning on talking to all of them in the coming days. This is a process that will take some time, but change begins by listening first.”
Some of the social media posts from former players included James Daniels, now with the Chicago Bears, who tweeted Friday night, “There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.”
Former Iowa defensive back Emmanuel Rugamba, who transferred to Miami (Ohio), alleged two instances involving Doyle in which he mocked black athletes and, as a result, “made you walk around the football facility on eggshells … and caused anxiety that could be unbearable at times with your dreams and career on the line.”
Former Hawkeyes linebacker Terrance Pryor said black athletes had to deal with “many racist incidents” during his time there, including an incident with Doyle in which he alleges the strength coach told him, “maybe you should take up rowing or something you know? Oh wait, Black people don’t like boats in water, do they?”
In his statement, Ferentz announced the creation of an advisory committee within the Iowa football program. A former player will chair the committee, which will be compromised of current and former players as well as department staff.
“This will be a diverse group that will be able to share without judgement,” Ferentz said. “So we can all examine where we are today and how we can have a better environment tomorrow.”
Ferentz said that several days ago current players “asked permission to post on social media so they could participate in the national discussion around injustice, racism and inequality.
“As a team we agreed last Thursday to lift the longstanding ban of players on social media and so you will be seeing them enter the now broader conversation.”
Doyle is the nation’s highest-paid strength coach and has been with the Hawkeyes’ program throughout Ferentz’s 21-year tenure.
Ferentz spoke about the importance of the environment and his players, and said it was clear they can all do more to create a respectful environment.
Ferentz told the team change will begin with them, but in reality, it begins with Ferentz.
“I told the team earlier this week; I’m a white football coach, teaching is what I do,” Ferentz said. “But I also know it’s important to know when to be the student.”