University of Iowa Releases External Review of Football Program
The University of Iowa released the full 25 page report following the external review of their football program today. After allegations of mistreatment of Black athletes was brought to the forefront, The University of Iowa retained Husch Blackwell LLP to conduct a review of the football program.
The report is very detailed but here is the "Executive Summary" which summarizes the report.
We interviewed 111 individuals, including 45 current and 29 former members of the football team and 36 current and former employees. While witnesses reported a range of experiences within the football program, we discerned several clear themes from the information we received.
Players and coaches uniformly agreed that the Iowa football program is based on a foundation of discipline and accountability. Several current and former players shared the view that some coaches have used those values to create and perpetuate an environment that bullies and demeans athletes, especially Black athletes. Moreover, recognizing that college athletes typically experience some degree of stress associated with their training and performance, several interviewees shared that the program’s stringent rules promulgated under the name of discipline place significant, heightened stress on players of all races.
The interviews revealed that the Iowa football program has historically adhered to a philosophy (the “Iowa Way”) that mandates uniformity and discourages individualism. Many Black players expressed difficulty adjusting to the program’s culture as a result, explaining that they were required to conform to a “mold” that appeared to be built around the stereotype of a clean-cut, White athlete from a midwestern background. Numerous rules, both formal and perceived, 2 requiring conformity around hair, clothing, jewelry, and tattoos left many Black players feeling isolated, targeted, and unwelcome in the program.
While many players shared criticisms about the program generally or their personal experiences with certain coaches, most players commented positively about Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and his leadership of the program. Numerous players also praised their position coaches and described the beneficial impact those coaches have had on both their athletic and personal development. Players of all races also described forming good relationships with their teammates.
Finally, the current players were uniform in their belief that the environment in the football program has improved significantly since the inception of this review — both in a general sense and through specific attempts to address or prevent racial inequities. The players expressed hopefulness that these improvements will continue and result in sustained action that will improve the program.
Finally, the report concludes with their recommendations including,
We recommend that the University work with Athletic Director Barta and Head Coach Ferentz to create action steps aimed at improving the culture of the program, eliminating biases, encouraging student-athletes to report concerns of mistreatment, and amplifying the University’s policy statement against retaliation within the football program.