Iowa placed strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle on administrative leave on Saturday pending an independent investigation after multiple former players gave voice to negative experiences they and other black players have had in the Hawkeyes program over the years. On Sunday, Doyle released a statement vehemently denying the allegations.
In the statement, Doyle said he was proud of the former players for speaking out, and that after giving feedback to players during his 21 years in the program, he was now receiving feedback himself and he’s choosing not to hide. He then closed his statement by issuing his denial.
“I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do,” said Doyle on Twitter. “There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and like every American citizen, can do better. At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race. I do not make comments and I don’t tolerate people who do.”
Doyle expressed confidence that the independent review of his time at Iowa would prove this to be true.
The statements Doyle refers to first appeared from former Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels. Daniels, now a member of the Chicago Bears, was joined by several other former players sharing similar stories, many of which centered on situations involving Doyle.
“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long,” Daniels tweeted on Friday night.
Daniels’ sentiments were shared by other former Hawkeyes, including Amani Hooker, who now plays for the Tennessee Titans.
“I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for black players to walk around the facility and be themselves,” Hooker said. “As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn’t acceptable & that you would be judge by that and it would impact playing time.”
Another former player, Marcel Joly, tweeted about how coaches told him having so many tattoos “wasn’t the ‘Iowa culture’ or the ‘Iowa Way.'”
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz initially released a statement on Friday saying he was “saddened” to hear the comments from the players, but that he was “thankful” they were sharing them. On Saturday, Ferentz announced the decision to place Doyle on administrative leave, calling it a “defining moment for the Iowa program.” He also announced the creation of a new advisory committee that will be chaired by a former Iowa player.
“I’ve spoken with [coach Doyle] about the allegations posted on social media,” Ferentz said in the video. “They’re troubling, and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, coach Doyle has been placed on administrative review immediately, while an independent review can take place. He and I agree that all parties have to have their voices heard and then a decision about how we move forward will take place.
“There’s been a call for a cultural shift in our program. I’m creating an advisory committee, chaired by a former player, and comprised of current and former players, as well as departmental staff. This will be a diverse group that will be able to share without judgment so that we can all examine where we are at today, and how we can have a better environment tomorrow.”
Doyle has been the strength and conditioning coach at Iowa throughout the entirety of Ferentz’s tenure, starting in 1999.