Howe: New Iowa Football Report Nothing to Celebrate

July 30, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – An important chapter in the story of alleged racial bias within the Iowa Football program was told Thursday. A much-anticipated external investigation report was released publicly.

It did not close the book, however. It was not a happy ending at all. It confirmed troubling charges we’d already heard the last two months.

The new findings support the belief from the majority of current and former student-athletes – head coach Kirk Ferentz can fix it. As I wrote last week, they are the best judges.

The program’s all-time winningest coach changing the culture to be more inclusive represents the best possible outcome if he can accomplish it. Former players during his 21 years running the show want nothing more than to hold their coach in the highest esteem.

Nobody should be doing a victory lap after reading the newest report, though. If you objectively consume the details of the 28-page document and care about Iowa Football, you’re disturbed. Just like you should be very uncomfortable reviewing an internal athletic department Diversity Task Force report submitted in early ’19 and the social media movement by former players last month.

Again, be encouraged that current and former student-athletes have faith in Ferentz moving forward while also being disgusted with how former players, especially Blacks, have been treated. They suffered mental trauma in this program they still carry with them and may not shake for years. Their experience is forever.

The key is Iowa doing everything in its power to make sure that never happens again. Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta are saying they’re dedicated to achieving that goal. There are no on-field accomplishments more important than that.

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It was announced Thursday that last month’s removal of strength coach Chris Doyle would be the only football staff dismissal. Any discipline for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, Kirk’s oldest son, and assistant defensive coordinator Seth Wallace, who were singled out in former player allegations, would be handled internally. Barta said privacy laws prohibit the school from releasing the latest report’s findings into specific charges against them.

The report did state: According to several players, issues within the culture were “not just a
Chris Doyle problem.” Those players said the culture problems are systemic and cannot be
fixed simply by getting rid of one coach. Several former players commented that Coach Doyle
should not be a “scapegoat” for the systemic issues in the program.

That’s an important passage because of a belief remaining coaches must change in order to fix a deep and multilayered problem, one that negatively impacts student-athletes, especially Blacks. And it starts from the jump.

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Thursday’s report confirmed what came up in the Diversity Task Force report – guys felt the family atmosphere portrayed during the recruiting process was not there when they arrived on campus. That can’t be. Student-athletes deserve to know what they can expect just like the coaches want the players to meet their expectations. No secrets with full transparency is necessary.

Conforming to White culture and being devalued upon arrival at Iowa appeared on the new report like it had in the first report and in public player allegations. Student-athletes, many Black, weren’t allowed room to properly acclimate during their first time away from home as teenagers in a new environment.

After providing a clear picture of what playing football will be like at Iowa in the recruiting process, follow up with nurturing and mentorship when guys first arrive. College football is hard enough without coaches making that transition more difficult. It’s what leads to a high transfer and poor graduation rates for Black student-athletes.

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The Diversity Task Force report revealed that coaches and staff at Iowa fell into stereotypical thinking when it came to Blacks in the program. That’s what has been defined as systemic.

These views won’t change overnight. It will be ongoing, and take time, dedication and desire. That’s true in Iowa Football and around the world.

Thursday’s report didn’t exonerate any coaches or people in the athletic department. It confirmed major issues from the Diversity Task Force report which had been confirmed by a public outcry from former student-athletes.

With two in-depth reports and social media accounts, it’s pretty clear now there was racial bias in Iowa Football. Hawkeyes everywhere should feel awful about that.

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