Kirk Ferentz issues statement after eight former Iowa football players demand $20 million, head coach's firing
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has released a statement after eight former Iowa football players sent a letter to the university, demanding $20 million and asking for the termination of the head coach, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and athletic Gary Barta for racial discrimination.
The demands from the eight former Hawkeyes came in the form of a 21-page certified letter that was sent to the University of Iowa. Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register obtained a copy of the document and reported the news on Sunday.
“I am disappointed to receive this type of demand letter. Due to the threat of litigation, I am not able to address the specific comments made by our former players,” Ferentz said in a statement. “As you may know, this past summer we made adjustments to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our student-athletes. These changes include both policies and rules, as well as an expanded leadership council of current players and a new advisory committee comprised of former players.
“I am deeply committed to helping everyone who joins the Hawkeye Football program reach their full potential on and off the field. My focus is now on our current players who are preparing for our first game this Saturday.”
Over the summer, Ferentz and the football program were called out for “racial disparities” within the Iowa culture. Several former Black football players came forward and shared their experiences on social media, which prompted to the athletic department and football program to look within itself to work towards change and creating a more inclusive environment to all players.
Allegations of racial disparities also led to strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle parting ways with the program after two decades in his position at Iowa.
From Leistikow’s report:
The group is represented by Tulsa civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and has additional demands, including attorney’s fees; the creation of a permanent Black male senior administrator position in Iowa athletics; mandatory anti-racist training for athletics staff; the establishment of a board of advisers including Black players and anti-racist professionals to oversee the football program; and tuition waivers for any Black athlete who did not graduate with a degree during Kirk Ferentz’s 22-year tenure.
According to the letter, if the demands are not met to the former athletes’ satisfaction by Monday, Oct. 19, the athletes were prepared to pursue a lawsuit “to ensure they are rightfully compensated for their emotional, mental and bodily damages and that Iowa is appropriately held accountable for its unlawful, discriminatory conduct.”
The eight former players involved are:
- Akrum Wadley
- Kevonte Martin-Manley
- Maurice Fleming
- Andre Harris
- Marcel Joly
- Aaron Mends
- Jonathan Parker
- Reggie Spearman
Iowa responded to the letter and requests by saying, “We respectfully decline your monetary and personnel demands.”
You can read more on the situation from Liestikow’s report here.