A University of Iowa coach has been placed on administrative leave after many Black former players accused him of fostering systemic racism in the college football program, said a report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The coach in question, football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, denied the allegations, said the Daily News. The university team is called the Iowa Hawkeyes.
In recent days, dozens of former players took to social media to talk about what they said were their troubling experiences with Doyle. They were responding to a tweet by a player, James Daniels, who’s now with the Chicago Bears.
“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long,” Daniels tweeted recently.
Following comments by the several former University of Iowa players, the college’s football coach Kirk Ferentz on Saturday announced that Doyle was being put on leave. In a video posted on the university football team’s Twitter account, Ferentz called it “a defining moment” for the program.
“Over the past 24 hours, I have seen some difficult and heartbreaking posts on social media,” Ferentz said. “I appreciate the former players’ candor and have been reaching out to many of them individually to hear more about their experiences in our program. I am planning on talking to all of them in the coming days. This is a process that will take some time, but change begins by listening first.”
Doyle, reportedly the highest-paid strength and conditioning coach in college football, said in a statement the claims against him are “not true.”
“I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do,” he said. “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 racist comments and I don’t tolerate people who do.”