According to a report coming out of Hawkeye Nation, a 2018 athletic department study from shows that Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barta allegedly knew about the racial disparities going on in the program.
For people connected to the daily ongoings of the program, this was already known and addressed by Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barta in their press conferences. It seems to be recirculating today that Kirk Ferentz and the athletic department knew about African American players being mistreated long before the social media explosion ormer and current players sharing their stories of racial injustice within the Iowa Football program. Kirk Ferentz admitting he “dropped the ball” and Barta emotionally breaking down in their press conferences regarding racial disparities.
That doesn’t make it better. The report shows statistical evidence that black players did not stay in the program or graduate as much as their white teammates, it is not really that close either. African American players also gave statements like “I felt I had to put a mask on and check my identity at the door.” And according to Rob Howe, HN publisher of the “Task Force Report” black players felt they were:
"Expected to conform to White cultureSubjected to verbal harassmentTargeted for extra drug testingMisled about resources available to them during the recruiting processSubjected to inequitable discipline policies and double standardsMisunderstood by both coaches and White playerUnsupported in their academic pursuits"
This all along with personal allegations from players on comments and actions from Iowa coaches perceived as racially charged.
Although these reports don’t contain new information per se, the likelihood that the next time Iowa Football takes the field, a new coach will be at the helm is becoming increasingly likely. With hundreds of fans, haters, and national media members calling for his job, being potentially complicit in ongoing racism within the Iowa program and his career likely coming to an end soon anyway as he enters the wrong side of 60, this could be the end of Kirk Ferentz at Iowa.
As we await the findings from the “external investigation” being done by the Kansas City law firm, that is really all that is left to do. To wait and see what happens.
Due to the ongoing investigation, Iowa football has not commented on any personal testimonies of former or current players citing the investigation, which in turn has allowed these stories and the media onslaught to build up, with around 50 players coming forward with personal stories about their time as an Iowa football player. A majority of them doing so with a negative recollection of their time as a Hawkeye.
Respected, successful black athletes came to the University of Iowa out of trust and the program has failed many of them. That is an important thing to remember the players speaking out, at least most of them, are respected Hawkeye alumni. The Daniels brothers, Amani Hooker, Josh Jackson all have gone on to productive NFL careers and still have negatively looked back on their time as a Hawkeye? I’m sure recruits love to hear that.
One thing to remember is we haven’t heard Kirk/Brian Ferentz’s side. The athletic department has been quiet outside of a few press conferences, both citing the ongoing investigation.
Sure, KF and Barta have answered a few questions in various press conferences. But for the most part, the answers to “What happened?” and “what are you doing to fix this?” have been few and far between. Assumedly, the former of those questions will be answered by the external investigation. For the latter, the steps have begun with changes in policy but are far from being completed and the answer may just end up being “Fire everyone.”
If the investigation finds that any member of the coaching staff knew, participated, or believed in the exclusion or treatment of African American players, that coach should be fired. If Kirk or Brian Ferentz made comments or actions that were intended to break down a player based on his race, they should be fired. If Gary Barta had known about this and was apart of a cover-up, he should be fired.
I don’t believe there was some elaborate cover-up but I do believe that Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz both could have done more to prevent this. They didn’t and that’s how we got to here.
The “higher-ups” at Iowa and in the athletic department have made their decision, they will wait for the investigation to be complete and then go from there. So that’s what us fans have left to do, sit and wait. It’s not glamorous and it’s not fun but realistically it is all we can do. The investigation is supposed to “take weeks, not months” and is expected to come to a conclusion by the end of July.
Fixing the racial disparities in the Iowa Football program isn’t going to be done in a day, week, or month. Probably not even a year. It is going to take time, important conversations, and strong emotions. Change is happening for Iowa football, the answer to who is the one to lead that change is still up in the air.
Ferentz and Barta both referenced changes during their press conferences made after the 2018 report, although these changes were clearly not enough. Allowing players to wear earrings, hoodies, and hats pails in comparison to the stories we’ve heard. Allowing players on social media was another step in the right direction. But it’s still not enough. Until black players feel they are supported equally to white players, only then will it be enough.
Continuing to make changes in order to promote a safer, more comfortable environment for players, specifically African Americans, is the number one priority right now. Whether or not Kirk Ferentz will be the one to institute that change remains to be seen.