Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz Addresses Allegations of Racist Comments Made by Chris Doyle

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 26-20. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz addressed the media Friday for the first time since allegations of racism were made against strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. 

In his opening statement, Ferentz said it felt “like I let those players down by not creating that environment where they did feel comfortable.”

Big Ten Network @BigTenNetwork

“I feel like I let those players down by not creating that environment where they did feel comfortable.”

Watch Kirk Ferentz’s opening statement from today’s @HawkeyeFootball press conference. https://t.co/m5sDJQ9Gkf

Speaking to reporters, Ferentz noted the coaching staff “must be more inclusive and more aware” about what is going on. He also said the “coaching style by some was at times demeaning and created unnecessary anxiety and frustration” among players on the team. 

Many former Hawkeyes players, including James Daniels, Diauntae Morrow and Jaleel Johnson, spoke out on Twitter against Doyle and other members of the coaching staff for enabling his alleged behavior:

Insurance Coach @Coach2Insurance

@leellxvii @jamsdans Played there 2007-2008 season….. Doyle made a comment about sending back to the GHETTO. I called him out on it in front of the entire team. I was suspended, KF told me I was out of line and needed to apologize for standing up for myself.

James Daniels @jamsdans

There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.

Morrow spoke with ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg to expand on his history with Doyle: “We never felt welcome, most of us, anyway, whether they would openly say it or not openly say it. We would congregate after practice and just talk about how we felt the program was being ran, and how we felt alienated.”

Ferentz addressed his “blind spot” as head coach: “I’m sure every person has a blind spot, every leader as a blind spot. The former players were very forthcoming, they were very direct in pointing out things that gave me a new awareness.”

In an attempt to give players a forum to express themselves, Ferentz noted he pushed back the start time for practices earlier this week for open discussions.

“It was raw, it was powerful and productive,” he said. “Everything was on the table. It got heated and emotional at times, which I think is good.”

Ferentz announced June 6 that Doyle has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an independent investigation into the allegations made against him. 

Doyle, 51, has been with the Hawkeyes as strength and conditioning coach since Ferentz’s first season with the program in 1999. 

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