Akrum Wadley released a statement today alleging more racially charged comments, bullying and described Iowa Football as a “living nightmare.”
Akrum Wadley has been one of the most electric players to wear the Iowa uniform in my lifetime. He was, and certainly to some still, is a fan favorite. How could he not be?
In the biggest of games and in the most crucial situations, Wadley’s number was called. And he delivered time and time again.
One of the best plays I’ve ever seen on road against Iowa State, late in the fourth quarter down a score. When Iowa needed somebody to make a play, Akrum answered the call by taking a 2-yard check down, making the whole defense miss, and finding the endzone to send the game to overtime:
The Michigan game in 2016 where he racked up 115 yards on the ground, adding 5 catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, leading Iowa to a 14-13 win over undefeated #3 Michigan:
— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) May 14, 2017
Penn State in 2017 to at least give Iowa a chance to win the game with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter:
The whole nation needs to know his name.
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 24, 2017
Akrum would go total 2800+ rushing yards and 28 touchdowns while adding 71 catches for 761 yards and 7 touchdowns. He ranks 5th on Iowa’s all-time rushing yards leaders and 4th in all-time rushing touchdowns. He went undrafted in the NFL before being signed by the Titans. He has since been waived and made appearances in the AAF.
Akrum Wadley post-graduation however, has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Akrum Wadley after going undrafted, being released from the Titans, he took to social media selling signed Hawkeye memorabilia. And it seems many people who purchased things received them months after with no communication or way to track their order, while some others never received them at all. Some of those people allege Wadley was blocking them on social media and never could get in contact with him.
Granted, I have no personal experience with that, don’t know anyone who does, and my source is Twitter:
A bunch of people paid @akrum_wadley for signed gear. He took the money and ran, and now he’s just blocking every single person who mentions it. Whatever your issue is, theft isn’t cool.
— hawkize (@hawkize) March 29, 2020
But there are quite a few responses confirming these accusations, dating all the way back until November attesting that they ordered gear and never received it. And that those who did often had to continue reaching out and were forced to wait months to receive their memorabilia.
When former and current players began sharing stories of racial disparities within the Iowa football program, Wadley released a short statement, where he shared only the “going to rob a gas station/liquor store?” comment without names :
I got so many stories I can talk about and experiences I had and other teammates but this was one of them. pic.twitter.com/CfK3Ss1TcM
— Akrum Wadley (@akrum_wadley) June 6, 2020
NOTE: Wadley would later name Brian Ferentz as the alleged perpetrator in this story.
Wadley then followed the next day with this:
Seeing too much negativity, I’m for change. I’m not into bashing nobody, I shared a story that didn’t include any names because I chose not to. I’m also not saying anybody should be fired that’s not my place, I’m just for change I have a younger brother I want to be fine.
— Akrum Wadley (@akrum_wadley) June 7, 2020
And then under five minutes later:
Mistakes can be corrected
— Akrum Wadley (@akrum_wadley) June 7, 2020
Wadley’s last tweet implies that he felt the same way as a lot of Hawkeye fans and former players, that although this is bad, we can come together and fix this not only for the greater good of the coaching staff or Iowa football program but the entire state and country.
That brings us to Akrum Wadley’s statement yesterday. It hurts to read, it really does. Hearing Akrum describes the mistreatment, comments, and actions made by the Iowa coaching staff makes me sick. If the accusations are found to be true, the only possible result is cleaning out the coaching staff and starting fresh.
Brian Ferentz, a wealthy, white man in a position of power commenting on whether a black player is going to rob a liquor store because of what he is wearing is well, asinine. It should never happen.
“A reporter said to Kirk Ferentz “Coach it’s a good thing you are going to New York because your star player Akrum Wadley who’s from New Jersey can show you guys around.” Kirk Ferentz responded to him “That’s the worst thing about it!”
I don’t think this is anything or can be considered malicious until the clip is found. A no-context quote that could have easily been said with a chuckle or a smile that would greatly change the narrative. I can’t imagine Kirk just directly saying “That’s the worst thing about it” with malicious intent, but I also couldn’t find the clip of the press conference. Until we get the context, tone, and emphasis on how KF said it, there isn’t any way for us to know what the intent of it was.
“I asked coach Broderick to get me a therapist to speak to because no one in the football program would help us or listen to what we had to say. I can’t remember her name. But I did meet with her one time to discuss my treatment at Iowa. She disappeared after that. No one told me where she went and no one was put in place for her after that.I didn’t want to ask too many questions because we would get punished for anything and everything but nothing that we even knew of.”
This is potentially the most damning allegation of his entire statement, but also is a little confusing. If Kirk, Brian, or anyone involved in the Iowa football program didn’t want Wadley to be talking to a therapist and took action to ensure he didn’t; it is manipulative and disgusting.
On the other hand, It could be nothing. A therapist who moved divisions within the University or started another job. Akrum never asked any questions to the coaching staff or could remember her name so they couldn’t get back in contact.
But if the Iowa football program was attempting to limit it’s players’ exposure to talking about their experiences within the Iowa football program, this is a bad look for anyone, let alone a college football program that has been heavily accused of racial disparities within the last month.
Akrum then goes on to discuss his weight issues during the program, issues that Kirk Ferentz was open about during Akrum’s time here. The program wanted Akrum to put on weight (he came in at 161 pounds), Kirk Ferentz commented on it many times throughout his career, Wadley’s mom commented about it, Wadley talked about it in press conferences. It was publicly known that the program wanted Wadley to put on weight.
“that black teammates were targeted to the extreme regarding not making Iowa’s required weight. Trying to gain and maintain that weight in a workout after drinking pounds of Powerade and/or shakes right before working out.”
Besides the example of drinking Powerade and shakes right before working out, Akrum doesn’t list any clear examples of black teammates being targeted and even his claim of gaining and maintaining weight isn’t necessarily a racial issue.
If you listen to the Washed Up Walkons they detail a lot of things from the “inner circle” of Iowa football players, weigh-ins were something they talked about also getting in trouble for as white players.
That doesn’t mean having players chugging Powerades or Protein shakes in order to avoid punishment is an acceptable thing, but it’s unclear whether or not these weight issues are racially charged.
“I was threatened by KirkFerentz that my meal card would be taken away and I will not eat nor be able to sit with my teammates during eating sessions. He did follow through on his threat. I went to use my meal card and it was declined.”
This part makes no sense to me, I’m sure Kirk could do some shady things behind the scenes to do this but if he wanted him to gain weight this seems contradictory? Just a strange accusation and we probably won’t have a response from the program, at least until the external investigation is done, but if somehow Kirk got his meal card taken away and wasn’t allowing him to eat? I don’t think I need to explain how horrible and disgusting that is.
But there are some points Akrum attempts to make that are very contradictory to his opinions from well, not long ago.
In the last paragraph of his statement, Akrum says “I would not encourage any future athletes or parents to send your kid to go play for the Iowa Hawkeyes under that current coaching staff.”
But, in December Akrum was retweeting tweets encouraging his brother to be a Hawkeye and raving about his love of Iowa and Kinnick Stadium.
— Lance (@lancepsports) June 29, 2020
In fact, a fair percentage of Akrum Wadley’s twitter is Hawkeye related in some way or another. Highlights from his playing days, live-tweeting last year games, interacting with fans and former players have all been very common occurrences on his Twitter feed over the last calendar year.
So why the change? If no African-American athletes should play at Iowa, why would you ever want your own brother to go down that same road? Why did his mom go from calling the coaching staff “honest, family men” before the Pinstripe Bowl in 2017 to bashing Kirk, Brian, and the rest of the program on FacebookLive? Why interact with the football program at all?
That doesn’t mean Akrum’s statement should be written off or is completely false, but it does need to be looked into. There are too many questions that remain unanswered.
The University released this statement in response to Akrum Wadley’s accusation:
Statement from Iowa Athletics on Akrum Wadley’s post this morning: pic.twitter.com/vEeAU2iPU5
— Robert Read (@Robert_Read34) June 29, 2020
Sound familiar? Probably because it is basically the same as everything else that the University has said regarding the racial disparities. It is great that they are making change, but finding out specifics from the Iowa side is needed. Hopefully, the external investigation gives fans and media more clarity.
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Akrum Wadley was one of the best Iowa running backs of all time and to his accounts “it was a nightmare.” That is a problem, a star African American player from what might as well be the other side of the world, came to Iowa, and didn’t enjoy his experience. That is a red flag, not only for recruits but should be for the program as well.
But how much of Akrum’s statement is exaggerated? How much of it are racially motivated actions compared to? And again, why now?
Those questions remain unanswered, but so do questions being asked to the Iowa Football program.
Akrum Wadley’s accusations should, obviously, be taken very seriously. It is a clear example of the “Iowa Way” limiting players from expressing themselves.
But, Wadley’s story should also be taken with a grain of salt considering his recent praise of the university and football program as well as a fall out with fans angry about the potential merchandise scam.
That is, for the record, absolutely not to say he is a liar but just that we need to be cautious considering his volatile change in attitude regarding the Iowa football program and recent history with the Hawkeye fan base.