The Iowa Football Report Is Out, and It's Pretty Much What You'd Expect

By Patrick Vint on July 30, 2020 at 9:26 am
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The long-awaited internal review of Iowa's football program culture was released this morning (PDF here).  The report, by the law firm of Husch Blackwell, examines allegations by current and former players of racial bias in Kirk Ferentz's program.

We're still digesting the details of the report, but the conclusion is that the allegations largely had merit:

[N]umerous players described feeling unhappy and unwelcome, citing to a program culture that they perceive requires strict conformity and rigid adherence to the “mold” of an ideal player, a mold that many Black players felt they could never truly fit because it was built around the stereotype of a clean-cut, White athlete from a midwestern background. Additionally, numerous current and former players and coaches of all races described an environment in which a small number of coaches felt empowered to bully and demean athletes, especially Black athletes.

In sum, the program’s rules perpetuated racial or cultural biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity. The program over-monitored players to the point that they experienced heightened anxiety and maintained a culture that allowed a small group of coaches to demean players. 

This largely parallels the particular complaints of players in public and on social media of a program that forced black players to conform to white culture, coaches who were allowed to demean players ('sup Doyle), and the common refrain that black players were "on pins and needles" when at the football facility.

Importantly, the report indicates that current players have uniformly praised the steps the program has taken since these concerns were publicly raised weeks ago:  "Players are cautiously optimistic that the coaching staff is listening to their concerns and having genuine conversations with them around difficult and complicated issues."  Those steps include expanding the leadership group to 24 players to allow for greater diversity (it had previously been 12) and appointing former player Broderick Binns as Executive Director of Diversity Equality and Inclusion.  Hopefully, we can remove the "cautiously" from that sentence in the coming weeks, months and years, but it's a start.  You don't change organizational culture overnight.  At the very least, it sounds like players are trusting the process.

Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz have called a press conference for this afternoon, and we'll have more following that.  For now, the forum is open.  Be respectful, and read before you type.

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