In a statement that he said he was told not to make, Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle said he’s never made racist comments or been racially biased in his time with the school.
Doyle is currently on administrative leave after numerous Iowa players spoke out about the program’s culture in the last few days. Many players — including numerous black athletes — mentioned Doyle in their remarks.
The longtime Iowa staffer and the highest-paid strength coach in the nation lauded the players who Iowa has developed, and while he said, “it is time to listen, learn and grow,” he also denied any wrongdoing and effectively disputed all the claims made against him by former football players.
“For 21 years I have committed my life to Iowa Football and loved with all my heart, every single one of the young men I’ve gotten to work with and every minute we have spent together in the weight room, on the field and as friends and fellow Hawkeyes. I can only imagine how much courage it took for them to speak out on these serious matters. I am proud of them.
“My job has been to give feedback to our players for 21 years and now I am receiving feedback myself. I can take it and I won’t hide from it. It saddens me to hear the stories of their difficult experiences while in our program in addition to the outpouring of stories we are hearing across this country.
“It is time to listen, learn and grow. Most importantly, it is a time for action.
“I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do. There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and like every American citizen, can do better. At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race. I do not make racists comments and I don’t tolerate people who do. I am confident that a complete review of the body of work over 21 years will speak for itself and I am trusting the process to respect the rights and experiences of all parties involved. There are countless men of character who are better fathers, husbands, activists, leaders and contributors to society due to their experience at Iowa Football. The record will show this.”
NFL player: Difficult for black players to be themselves
The complaints about Iowa have not been isolated. Current Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker said that it was difficult for black players to be themselves.
“I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for black players to walk around the facility and be themselves,” Hooker wrote in a Twitter post. “As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn’t acceptable and that you would be judged by that and it would impact playing time. For a lot of guys it was just constant anxiety and pressure to be someone they really aren’t to play a game they love, which affected school and their play.”
Former Iowa defensive lineman Jack Kallenberger spoke out on Sunday. He said he was nicknamed “Simple Jack” by a coach at the school and also mentioned derogatory comments that Doyle made to him.
Kirk Ferentz: I’m the one who’s accountable
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said Sunday that he was the one who was accountable. Little of the criticism from former players so far has been aimed at the longtime head coach.
Significant criticism, however, has been directed at Ferentz’s son, Brian, who is now the team’s offensive coordinator. Kirk Ferentz said Sunday when he met with reporters via a Zoom news conference that the accusations against Doyle were more significant than the accusations against his son.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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