Current Iowa football players have now made it clear to fans that they will not tolerate those who don't support their message off of the field on the heels of allegations against strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. Sophomore defensive back Kaevon Merriweather took to Twitter on Monday to deliver the message that fans who don't support the team's decision to kneel during the national anthem shouldn't bother cheering for them moving forward.
"If you can not support us right now with this movement and with our team taking a knee during the national anthem, DO NOT support us during the football season," he wrote. "DO NOT watch our games on TV. DO NOT come up to us when you want photos. DO NOT ask us to give your kids autographs. DON'T COME TO US EXPECTING US TO DO FOR YOU WHEN YOU CAN'T SUPPORT THE BLACK ATHLETES ON THIS TEAM AND THE DECISIONS WE MAKE AS A TEAM. I would rather play in front of 1,000 fans who care about us as people outside of football and what we are standing for, than 70,000 fans who only care about us when we are in uniform and on the field entertaining them."
Scott Dochterman of The Athletic pointed out that several current Iowa players have posted the same statement on Instagram.
Junior running back Ivory Kelly-Martin, on his Twitter account, shared a differing message urging others to become a part of the change.
Former Hawkeyes voiced their concerns over the last week about mistreatment of players on social media -- specifically allegations against Doyle, citing negative words and actions toward African American players. Doyle was placed on administrative leave by the school pending the outcome of an investigation.
Ex-Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels was one of the first former Iowa players to speak out on Doyle's mistreatment of black players. Several other former Hawkeyes, including defensive back Amani Hooker, followed suit by sharing their stories regarding Doyle.
"I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for black players to walk around the facility and be themselves," Hooker said. "As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn't acceptable & that you would be judge by that and it would impact playing time."
Doyle released a statement on Sunday saying that he was proud of the former players for speaking out but denied the mistreatment of players.
"I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do," said Doyle on Twitter. "There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and like every American citizen, can do better. At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race. I do not make comments and I don't tolerate people who do."
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz posted a video to Twitter on Saturday addressing the situation.
"There's been a call for a cultural shift in our program," he said. "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."
Black Lives Matter protests have sprung up all over the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. Those protests have called for justice, social equality and an end to police brutality. Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder related to the death of Floyd.