Families of Former Black Iowa Football Players Organizing for Answers

June 14, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

Families of former black Iowa football players are organizing and want answers to questions about what they say were racial injustices they experienced while with the program. Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette first reported on the group Thursday.

Robert T. Green, CEO of the Virginia based sports management advisory group Pre-Postgame, spoke with the Gazette. On Sunday, he released a Facebook video with more details about the group’s complaints, particularly against head coach Kirk Ferenz, his son, Brian Ferentz, the offensive coordinator, and strength coach Chris Doyle.

This is the #HawkEyeWay and #BlindSpot the athletes didn't know

Why we wouldn't send your #AfricanAmerican son to play football at the #UniversityOfIowa to play for #KirkFerentz or any of the current coaches on that staff. That staged press conference they presented the other day using the #studentathlete to shield their true character and ways is a microcosm that we see playing out in society today.At the end of this video I will be naming the current names that are moving forward to speak. There are others but requested to remain anonymous by name, not circumstance after seeing how the #Iowa #fan base has been attacking current and former student athletes, they are afraid of what that culture of the #HawkEyeWay created, implemented and overseen by the #headcoach will be directed towards them.It is unfortunate that the #NCAA and the #media at large has not really pushed to find out what has happened with theses athletes over the last 21 years and failed to even address it in any type of credible way. I guess their field passes or media credentials are more important than these young men's lives while only being compensated to speak about them.To all parents and current and future athletes out there. Know that your life matters, Know that you are important, Know you have a say in your future.#TrustTheFacts #NotTheProcessSincerelyRobert T. Green ThePlayersRepEducate,Empower, Protectpre-postgame.com

Posted by Robert T Green on Sunday, June 14, 2020

Green announced that the families of former Hawkeyes Akrum Wadley, Reggie Spearman, Maurice Fleming, Malik Rucker and Marcel Joly were in the group. Green said on the video that the group was reaching out to other ex-Iowa players. He said some of the athletes haven’t spoken out for fear of public backlash.

“There are more people and more stories and more situations that will come out,” Green said in the video.

Green ran down a list of allegations against the program from these players. One of the charges came from former linebacker Reggie Spearman, who suffered a knee injury during his true sophomore season of 2014. Spearman ended up transferring, first to Illinois State and then Grand Valley State.

Spearman could be heard telling the story on Green’s video from Sunday.

“Halfway into the (’14) season, I suffered a really bad knee injury to the point where at practice I couldn’t even stand on my own two feet. I was fighting through it. I wanted to be there for my teammates. Later that season, we had a bye week and there is where things changed. The coaches had loved me. I was on the leadership committee. Everything was going great,” Spearman said.

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In October of ’14, Spearman was suspended for one game after being charged with OWI. That happened during the bye week.

Spearman said he was pulled over by police while driving his moped. He said told the officers he was not drunk. He was handcuffed.

“At this point, I’m terrified. I wasn’t even intoxicated,” he said.

Police took him to the station. Spearman chose to have his urine tested instead of a breathalyzer. He said that’s when he found out the urine test would not come back until three or fours months later.

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Spearman recalled being brought into Kirk Ferentz’s office the following morning.

“They stripped me of all of my accomplishments and roles on the team,” said Spearman, who had been on the player leadership committee. “They treated me like shit after that. On game days, they had me in the basement folding shirts.”

Green said Spearman was required to fold 700 shirts on game days and was told he couldn’t leave until they were done.

“It was very clear after that that the head coach did not want me on the team,” Spearman said. “I kept telling him I was falsely accused and that when the test comes back everything is going to be OK. The charge would be dropped, which it has. I have that on file. Come to find out two months later, I was way under the limit. I should have never been in custody at all.”

After the season, Spearman said that he came back for weight training when he was called into Kirk Ferentz’s office.

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“He rips me. He calls me a liar. He called me names that I never thought a guy I committed to for four years would ever call me. It was disgusting. Made me cry. I had to call my parents I was so emotionally distraught. My dad came down just to talk to me I was so sad,” Spearman said.

On the list of players in this group asking for answers from Iowa football, Fleming, Wadley and Joly graduated from the university. Fleming played his final season at West Virginia as a grad transfer.

These allegations come in the wake of more than 50 former Hawkeyes alleging racial bias and mistreatment within the program. Kirk Ferentz held a press conference Friday.

HN reached out to Iowa sports information director Steve Roe, who provided this statement from the university:

Coach Ferentz will not be commenting on individual, unverified accusations posted on social media out of respect for the independent review process and for those who have shared their stories with him personally. Coach Ferentz has spent the past week listening and talking with a number of current and former players who talked about their experiences and their desire to help shape the future of the Hawkeye football program.

It appears as though there are some individuals not related to the program who may be trying to exploit this difficult time and undermine our efforts to make real constructive changes.

Coach Ferentz believes that meaningful change takes time and a thorough examination is already underway. He remains committed to creating a more inclusive culture for all of his players now and in the years to come.

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