A 2018 internal report detailed major racial biases inside the Iowa athletic department. Hawkeye Nation received a summary of findings of the report through a Freedom of Information Act Request that exposed wide-ranging discrepancies in the way that Black players were treated when compared to their white counterparts.
The Diversity Task Force created by Iowa found that Black players were targeted for more drug testing, weren't informed of resources available to student-athletes, were more harshly punished and expected to conform to the culture that white players set. The report also states that players were subject to verbal harassment by coaches. The task force consisted of 50 former and current student-athletes, coaches and staff members from multiple backgrounds.
The report from the task force came more than a year prior to strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle's dismissal after the mistreatment of Black players was exposed by former players. Coach Kirk Ferentz read the report in 2019, according to Hawkeye Nation, but only made minor changes to the culture of the program prior to last season.
"We allowed (student-athletes) to wear hats, earrings, [and hoodies] but what I learned here is there's a lot more to it," he said, according to Hawkeye Nation. "We've got to dig deeper, listen better, and act on things that count."
Despite that, Ferentz retained Doyle, who had been on his staff since 1999, for two more seasons before multiple players took to Twitter to make their experiences known to the public. Former offensive lineman James Daniels, now with the Chicago Bears, was the first to voice his displeasure.
The report states that Daniels met with Gary Barta in the spring of 2019. Barta indicated to Daniels that there were changes underway within the program.
Ferentz acknowledged last month that he did know about the mistreatment of players, but didn't necessarily understand how deep the problems within the program went.
"I don't want to say I was blind-sided," Ferentz said during conference call last month"… but the bottom line is we don't want anybody to leave this place not feeling like this was a good experience."
Ferentz addressed the situation more seriously after the allegations from players when he created a committee to further change the program.
"There's been a call for a cultural shift in our program," Ferentz said in a video on Twitter last month. "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."
Barta apologized to any current or former players who have been mistreated during their time with the program in an emotional press conference on June 15.
"One thing that I wanted to do , and it's important to me, is to say I'm sorry ... to former athletes, coaches, staff, current student athletes -- anybody who's had a negative experience with Iowa football," he said. "When I say 'negative,' if you felt mistreated, misled, discriminated against, whatever the case. I truly am sorry. We want everybody who participates in our program to have a great experience academically, athletically and socially."
The University of Iowa has retained Kansas City-based law firm Husch Blackwell to conduct an independent review of allegations relating to racial disparities within the football program. It is expected to complete and submit its findings by the end of July.