Tag:Iowa News Conference
Posted on: January 27, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Ferentz, Iowa AD locations revealed

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Yesterday Iowa hosted a press conference regarding the mysterious hospitalization of 13 of its players that virtually every observer, this blog included, regarded as a "near-total disaster ." The major complaint: despite the grave importance of the issue and the need to present the most united front possible, neither head coach Kirk Ferentz nor athletic director Gary Barta were present at the press conference. In fact, no Iowa football coaches were present at all.

So putting aside the issue of why strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle wasn't present to address the workouts that had led to the hospitalizations, where were Ferentz and Barta in the program's hour of need? Columnist Mike Hlas of the Iowa City Gazette has your answers:
Barta was out of town on Wednesday. He will be in the Fort Myers-Naples, Fla. area through at least Friday. An annual University of Iowa Athletic Association fundraising golf event is in Naples on Friday ...

“He made the best decision he could make based on what he needs to do,” said Iowa senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer , who didn’t flinch from taking questions herself after the press conference ...

Ferentz, meanwhile, was in Cleveland to reportedly meet with Glenville High School Coach Ted Ginn about possible future recruits. The night before, he was in Strongsville, Ohio, to visit with a high school tight end who has verbally committed to the Hawkeyes.

Hlas correctly points out that even if Ferentz and Barta were present at the press conference, the notoriously media-unfriendly duo wouldn't have yielded much more information, if any, than was revealed anyway.

But regardless, their entirely-avoidable absence sends the message -- as inaccurate as it certainly is -- that they don't view the hospitalization of 13 (13! ) of their players as an issue that's really all that important. Ferentz and Barta appear to believe, even if they don't, that a serious health issue that took place within their team on their watch isn't worth their time. As Hlas writes:

They’re the two main men of Hawkeye sports, the leader of the athletic department and the boss of all things football. Unless they have their own family crises, when 13 of their athletes are in a hospital, they have to be the faces and voices that are out front.

How much damage their absence will really do -- how much damage the gushing torrent of bad press can actually cause -- is highly debatable. But there's no question that their unwillingness to confront the issue in person has done nothing to make an already ugly situation for the Hawkeye program any better.


Posted on: January 26, 2011 8:03 pm
 

Iowa news conference a near-total disaster

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the wake of the outbreak of rhabdomyolysis that sent now 13 Iowa players to the hospital (another was admitted today), fans have understandably been looking for more answers from the university than just "'safe and stable' with an undisclosed illness." To that end, the university athletic department held a press conference late this afternoon to address the situation.

Except, head coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't there; he was still getting back into town from his recruiting trip. And athletic director Gary Barta wasn't there; he presumably had better things to do. No Iowa football coaches were there at all, including strength and condiitioning coach Chris Doyle or any of his asistants. In fact, the only three people at the press conference were director of football operations Paul Federici, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics kidney specialist John Stokes, and freshman linebacker Jim Poggi's father, Biff Poggi.

What ensued, at least for the first part of the the conference, was another exercise in stonewalling and excessive privacy from Iowa. While we can't expect Stokes or Federici to address the players' identities and conditions -- that would be a direct violation of not only the trust of players and their families, but federal HIPPA laws about patient privacy as well -- we can certainly expect more than Federici's abject refusal to admit any knowledge of any particulars about the offseason workouts other than what days they took place. Again, he's the director of football operations at Iowa. Does Federici -- who was a former head of training at Iowa before moving into his administrative role -- seriously have no personal knowledge of what happens during these offseason workouts? Is that even remotely acceptable? 

In fact, Biff Poggi went into more detail about the workouts and the conditions of the players than both Stokes and Federici ever did, as the latter two hid behind lack of personal knowledge and an unusually broad interpretation of the HIPPA laws. Obviously, when Jim Poggi started posting (since-deleted) details of his hospitalization on Facebook, that expectation of privacy went out the window and Biff Poggi was allowed to address his son's condition. Poggi also addressed the prevailing mood of the hospitalized players, saying "they want to get back and start playing."

While it's obviously disconcerting that neither Barta nor Ferentz were at the press conference, it's also naive to believe that either would have said, well, anything substantial or above what Federici would have said -- namely, that the workouts happened on specific days and that they were within NCAA regulations. Anyone who believes otherwise has a very short memory, considering the dearth of specifics that came from the last press conference Iowa held. That was just last month, as Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had been arrested the week prior and rumors had been flying about potential drug use on the team. That day, it was 60% an overview of Iowa's drug testing, 35% of hectoring the Internet, and 5% of new information; the ratio would likely have been similar today.

It's like this far too often at Iowa. Whenever something bad happens, communication from the athletic department is so insufficient that it creates a vacuum of information, and speculation from outside sources fills that vacuum every single time. That's not an Iowa-only phenomenon, it's how PR works. To have 12 (eventually 13) players admitted to a hospital at once with a similar medical issue (and make no mistake, the Iowa trainers clearly had a very good idea of what that issue was when they referred the players to the hospital, to say nothing of by the time that press release had been sent the next day) and expect the matter to be resolved with "no further comment" is at best irresponsible behavior for an athletic department. At worst, it's incompetent and borderline exploitative.

And it's just par for the course for Iowa.

 
 
 
 
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