Iowa investigation largely exonerates Ferentz
An external review of the Iowa football program found evidence of racial and cultural bias but did not recommend the removal of longtime head coach Kirk Ferentz or athletic director Gary Barta.
The Husch Blackwell law firm released a 28-page report Thursday detailing the findings of its seven-week investigation into the Hawkeyes’ football culture. The firm interviewed 111 people, including 74 current and former players.
The report says many Black players had trouble adjusting to the “Iowa Way” and that they “were required to confirm to a ‘mold’ that appeared to be built around the stereotype of a clean-cut, White athlete from a midwestern background.”
The report said “some coaches have used those values to create and perpetuate an environment that bullies and demeans athletes, especially Black athletes.”
“In sum, the program’s rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity,” the report reads. “The program over-monitored players to the point that they experienced heightened anxiety and maintained a culture that allowed a small group of coaches to demean players.”
Barta and Ferentz are scheduled to meet with the media on Thursday afternoon.
University president Bruce Harreld issued a statement Thursday morning.
“It is clear that the climate and culture must and will change within our football program,” Harreld said. “Our student-athletes must have the ability to be true to themselves, and we cannot and will not tolerate a systemic process that inhibits authenticity.”
The investigation began last month after several Black players spoke out about a dysfunctional culture within the Big Ten program.
That ultimately led to the dismissal of former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, who was removed from his position on June 14 with a reported $1.1 million settlement.
Doyle, who denied allegations of abusive treatment, is the only member of the coaching staff or administration to lose his job. That may not change following Thursday’s report.
“We recommend that the University work with Athletic Director Barta and Head Coach Ferentz to create action steps aimed at improving the culture of the program, eliminating biases, encouraging student-athletes to report concerns of mistreatment,” Husch Blackwell said in its conclusion. “Finally, both the Athletic Director and Head Coach Ferentz expressed their commitment to rebuild trust with players and foster an environment that embodies the Department’s values of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The report said “most players commented positively about (Ferentz) and his leadership of the program.”
–Field Level Media