Iowa Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz and other school officials held a press conference today to put an end to the swirling rumors regarding Iowa's football program and alleged drug-related transgressions. The story is not as dramatic or shocking as it seemed, according to Ferentz and company, as there will be no additional suspensions after the team suspended wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and running back Adam Robinson for different reasons this week.
Johnson-Koulianos was arrested last Tuesday on charges of drug possession, and the team had already elected to shelve him for the remainder of the season. Robinson, who had been rumored to be involved in the drug problems, will not join the Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl Dec. 26. Ferentz chose to suspend him for academic reasons after feeling Robinson was not working hard enough at his studies.
This story became much bigger and more sensational than it ever needed to be, so read on for a factual timeline of the situation and what did and did not happen.
The story began a week ago Tuesday, when police searched the home of Johnson-Koulianos and found cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. Johnson-Koulianos, the all-time receiving leader at Iowa, was arrested on possession charges after a drug test confirmed his own admission: he had taken a number of illegal drugs.
Moving quickly, Ferentz suspended Johnson-Koulianos within hours of the arrest. In a statement to the press, he said:
“I am highly disappointed to learn of the charges,” Ferentz said in a statement. “Derrell has been suspended from all team activities.”
That statement helped maintain Iowa's perceived integrity in the situation, and eliminated any chance that Johnson-Koulianos would play in the Insight Bowl.
Johnson-Koulianos made his first preliminary court appearance Wednesday, as rumors about the drug-testing program at Iowa began to swirl. The hearings did not include much new information, but the splashy nature of the drug bust gave rise to ever-rising levels of anxiety over whether more players were slipping through the cracks. Somehow, unfounded rumors began to spread that other players would be suspended.
Sophomore running back Jewel Hampton left the Iowa program, Ferentz announced Monday. Hampton's exit was a mutual decision, according to Ferentz during the press conference Tuesday. Hampton rushed for 114 yards on 27 carries this season for the Hawkeyes.
Ferentz did not clarify the reasons, but he also suspended Robinson on Monday for the Insight Bowl. The two additional losses threw fuel on the fire of rumors surrounding the Johnson-Koulianos situation, as buzz quickly spread that, whatever the participants' insistence to the contrary, Robinson and Hampton were leaving the team for drug-related offenses. Those rumors persisted into Tuesday morning, when Ferentz finally cleared the air.
The Tuesday morning presser made clear what was fact and what was fiction in this tangled situation. Robinson is a "good guy," according to Ferentz, but did not focus closely enough on his studies. Hampton and the Hawkeyes agreed on his need to leave the program, though all Ferentz would really say about the reasoning was that it did not relate to drug use.
As for the University's drug testing program, which failed rather obviously by never nabbing Johnson-Koulianos, Ferentz noted that the program's officials have reason to believe some student-athletes get around the tests. They pledged to adjust the system to make that less possible, and are now focused on the Insight Bowl. With a bit of Hawkeye luck, the rest of the country will follow suit.