Iowa places strength coach Chris Doyle on leave after players give voice to negative experiences

Iowa has placed strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle on administrative leave pending an independent investigation after multiple former players gave voice to negative experiences they and other black players have had in the Hawkeyes program over the years. First was current Chicago Bears offensive lineman James Daniels. He was then joined by several other former players sharing similar stories, many of which centered on instances with Doyle.

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long,” Daniels tweeted on Friday night.

Daniels’ sentiments were shared by other former Hawkeyes, including Amani Hooker, who now plays for the Tennessee Titans.

“I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for black players to walk around the facility and be themselves,” Hooker said. “As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn’t acceptable & that you would be judge by that and it would impact playing time.”

Another former player, Marcel Joly, tweeted about how coaches told him having so many tattoos “wasn’t the ‘Iowa culture’ or the ‘Iowa Way.'”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz initially released a statement on Friday saying he was “saddened” to hear the comments from the players, but that he was “thankful” they were sharing them. On Saturday, Ferentz announced the decision to place Doyle on administrative leave, calling it a “defining moment for the Iowa program.” He also announced the creation of a new advisory committee that will be chaired by a former Iowa player.

“I’ve spoken with [coach Doyle] about the allegations posted on social media,” Ferentz said in the video. “They’re troubling, and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, coach Doyle has been placed on administrative review immediately, while an independent review can take place. He and I agree that all parties have to have their voices heard and then a decision about how we move forward will take place.

“There’s been a call for a cultural shift in our program. I’m creating an advisory committee, chaired by a former player, and comprised of current and former players, as well as departmental staff. This will be a diverse group that will be able to share without judgment so that we can all examine where we are at today, and how we can have a better environment tomorrow.”

Doyle has been the strength and conditioning coach at Iowa throughout the entirety of Ferentz’s tenure, starting in 1999.

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