Former Iowa Football Players Demand Kirk Ferentz's Firing, $20M in Compensation

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2020

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz speaks during a news conference, Friday, June 12, 2020, in Iowa City, Iowa. The Iowa football team took a big step toward improving its lines of communication in the week since the program was hit with allegations of systemic racism, Ferentz and three of his players said Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Eight former University of Iowa football players have demanded $20 million in compensation and the firing of athletic director Gary Barta, head coach Kirk Ferentz and assistant coach Brian Ferentz.

In a letter sent to the university Oct. 5, the former Hawkeyes players say that Barta and the Ferentzes were responsible for "intentional racial discrimination" during their tenures, according to Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register.

The players, who worked with civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons to send the letter, are running back Akrum Wadley, wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, defensive back Maurice Fleming, wide receiver Andre Harris, running back Marcel Joly, linebacker Aaron Mends, running back Jonathan Parker and linebacker Reggie Spearman.

All of the former players who sent the letter are Black.

Other demands outlined by the former players in the letter include the addition of a "Black male senior administrator position" as part of Iowa athletics, anti-racist training for athletics staff, a board of advisers that includes Black players and tuition waivers for any Black athlete who did not graduate during Ferentz's time as head coach.

In response to the letter, University of Iowa general counsel Carroll Reasoner said that while the school has made attempts to satisfy some of the demands already, "We respectfully decline your monetary and personnel demands."

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Ferentz issued a statement in response to the letter, noting he is "deeply committed" to helping everyone who joins the Iowa football program reach their full potential, both on and off the field:

The Iowa football program parted ways with strength coach Chris Doyle in June after he spent 21 years in that position. The decision was made after dozens of former players said that he was among those within the program who mistreated Black players.

All of the eight former players who sent the letter have made specific allegations regarding how Black players and personnel have been treated unfairly at the University of Iowa.

Wadley said he had his meal-card privileges revoked at one point, and Martin-Manley tweeted about what he felt was the unfair forcing out of former wide receivers coach Erik Campbell in 2012:

The 65-year-old Kirk Ferentz is about to start his 22nd season as head coach of the Hawkeyes and owns a career record of 162-104.

Ferentz guided Iowa to Big Ten titles in 2002 and 2004, and the Hawkeyes have played in 17 bowl games during his tenure.

In June, Ferentz admitted that he had a "blind spot" in terms of not seeing the mistreatment of Black players in the Iowa football program.

As part of the letter, it was stated that the eight former players are prepared to pursue a lawsuit against the school if their demands are not met by Oct. 19.