Former Players Speak About The Culture of Iowa Football Program And The Treatment of Black Players

By RossWB on June 6, 2020 at 10:17 am
Iowa football.
© Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

We haven't had much to say about the current moment in American life and culture, with the discussion centered around Black Lives Matter, for a variety of reasons, none of them adequate. That's on us. But the reality of the current moment slammed into the Iowa football program on Friday night as several black former players took to Twitter to criticize the culture within the Iowa program. 

The night began with James Daniels calling out the unfair and unequal treatment of black players at Iowa.

Several former teammates expressed agreement, such as Darian Cooper: 

And Jaleel Johnson: 

Marcel Joly:

Amani Hooker: 

Aaron Mends: 

Terrance Pryor: 

Cedric Boswell: 

DJ Johnson (who transferred from Iowa just a few weeks ago): 

Jordan Lomax: 

Emmanuel Rugamba: 

I can't pinpoint exactly which former player this is, but he was on the team:

Maurice Fleming: 

Faith Ekakitie:

Anthony Gair: 

Reggie Spearman: 

Tevaun Smith: 

Mike Daniels: 

Adam Gettis: 

Akrum Wadley:

Tyler Devine is not a former player, but he is a member of the Iowa sports media (previously at AllHawkeyes, soon at HawkFanatic):

Comments from Jermire Roberts, George Lewis, and Albert Young (via Rob Howe): 

Their comments aren't easy to read, but that hardly matters. Hearing from the Iowa players in their own words, about their experiences, is important -- and they make it clear that the culture within the Iowa program is not healthy. There are serious flaws within that culture and a painful disparity in the way that players are treated, particularly black players. That needs to be reckoned with now. 

For now, the only response from Ferentz and Iowa football has been this statement: 

That not's adequate. Criticizing the former players for breaking the cone of silence that surrounds the Iowa program by making these comments publicly isn't helpful. Listening to what the players (current and former) have to say is good (and necessary), but any blindness to these issues come across as at least partially willful. Kirk Ferentz, Chris Doyle, and the entire Iowa program have a lot to answer for at this point; dialogue alone isn't going to resolve these issues. 

As Scott Dochterman points out at The Athletic ($), "culture" is vague and can mean a lot of things. But it seems clear at this point that parts of the culture within the Iowa football program are toxic and damaging for many of its members. That has to change. This conversation, like the wider national conversations that it's flowed from, is long overdue. Thank you, James Daniels, for shining a light on this issue, and thank you to the dozens of former players who have spoken out to build on Daniels' comments and to highlight their own experiences. We respect them for coming forward and for revealing their truths. 

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