Doyle Placed On Administrative Leave
Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave, head coach Kirk Ferentz announced on Saturday night, in the wake of allegations by former players about racial issues within the program.
The players said in Twitter posts that there were racial disparities within the program, and several mentioned comments and actions Doyle had made toward them during their time with the Hawkeyes.
"Many of the discussions have centered around our strength and conditioning program and coach Chris Doyle," Ferentz said in the statement. "I have spoken with him about the allegations posted on social media. They are troubling and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, coach Doyle has been placed on administrative leave immediately while there is an independent review. He and I agree that all parties will have their voices heard and then a decision about how to move forward will be made."
The statement said an independent review of the allegations will be conducted.
Assistant football strength and conditioning coach Raimond Braithwaithe will lead the strength and conditioning program in Doyle's absence. Iowa begins voluntary workouts on Monday.
Ferentz called this a "defining moment for the Iowa football program."
"Over the past 24 hours I have seen some difficult and heartbreaking posts on social media. I appreciate the former players' candor and have been reaching out to many of them individually to hear more about their experiences in our program. I am planning on talking to all of them in the coming days. This is a process that will take some time, but change begins by listening first.
"Many of the discussions have centered around our strength and conditioning program and coach Chris Doyle. I have spoken with him about the allegations posted on social media. They are troubling and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, coach Doyle has been placed on administrative leave immediately while there is an independent review. He and I agree that all parties will have their voices heard and then a decision about how to move forward will be made."
"There has been a call for a cultural shift in our program. Therefore, I am creating an advisory committee, chaired by a former player and made up of current and former players as well as department staff. This will be a diverse group that will be able to share without judgement so we can all examine where we are today and how we can have a better environment tomorrow."
"Football is a game of discipline and sacrifice. In our program there are high standards and accountability - we have a good team of players, coaches and staff members. But it is clear we can do more to create a welcoming and respectful environment where every player can grow, develop and become the best version of himself."
As I told the team earlier this week - I am a white football coach. Teaching is what I do best. But it is also important to know when to be the student.
Several days ago the players asked permission to post on social media so they could participate in the national discussion around injustice, racism and inequality. As a team we agreed last Thursday to lift the longstanding ban of players on social media and so you will be seeing them enter the now broader conversation.
These are painful times. As a leader you can learn a lot by listening but then you must take action. Finally, I told the team that change begins with us, but truly change begins with me.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta also released a statement:
I’m concerned about the recent comments being voiced by several former Hawkeye football players on social media. It is important that we reach out and listen to both current and former student-athletes. We must be willing to improve and change.
I have been in contact with both Kirk Ferentz and Chris Doyle during the last 24 hours. Kirk and I have agreed to place Coach Doyle on immediate paid administrative leave and begin an independent external review of the program. Assistant football Strength and Conditioning Coach Raimond Braithwaithe will assume leadership of the Iowa football Strength and Conditioning program during this period.
In 2018 we established the UI Athletic Diversity Task force to specifically address African American male student-athletes graduation rates. As part of the process, the task force interviewed current and former student-athletes to better understand our department’s climate towards diversity and the experiences of student-athletes. It was evident at that time we needed to improve as a department. While we have taken several steps to address these issues, there is more to do.
Ultimately, our success will be defined by our actions. Our greatest victory won’t be found on a box score but a willingness to speak out against racism, and to make sure every student-athlete, coach, and staff member feel safe, supported, and that they have a voice that is empowered.