Ferentz Knows Politics Will Be Part Of The Dialogue

Adam Hensley

Sports and politics are becoming increasingly intertwined, and it’s something Iowa football is grappling with at this very time.

In 2017, Kirk Ferentz said politics should be kept outside of sport. When asked if he would be in favor of the players making a political statement, he replied, “I'd ask them to do it on their own time, probably.”

Ferentz said in Thursday’s press conference he still believes sports and politics should be separate, but this is a different time.

“I think much of my views have changed a lot about the national anthem and just how we execute it and we're still in discussion on that, but I told our players yesterday, at least the leadership group, that I still feel the same way, in a perfect world, to me sports should be just about sports, but I think we're in a different time and a different place right now as a society, and I appreciate the dialogue we've had,” he said.

Ferentz added that he’s had two separate meetings, and in the last one, the team touched on the topic. Nothing is set in stone, but the dialogue will continue.

The Husch Blackwell report, the independent review into allegations of racial disparities within Iowa's football program, detailed that players felt as though they couldn’t speak out at times.One former student-athlete said players were told to “keep politics and football separate.” A coach interviewed in the report didn’t remember making that comment.

That same former player questioned why white players were allowed to wear Make America Great Again hats and meet with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2015. Ferentz and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta both said that the players attending the campaign were not there on behalf of the program.

The report, however, never said Ferentz discouraged players from supporting their community and better educating themselves on other ways outside the team.

Back in 2017 when he said he’d ask players to make a statement on their own time, he also noted that he encouraged them to go out and make change.

“Go do something that could really make a difference,” he said. “Go do community service. Go to an activist rally. Go listen to candidates talk when it's political season. I've got my blue shirt and red tie on speaking of politics and primaries and all that stuff. But go listen and find out what candidates are really about, and go vote. Go vote.”

And the players aren’t afraid to speak with coaches about social issues, according to Husch Blackwell’s findings.

“They remarked that coaches are listening to them and having open discussions about significant issues, including social justice issues such as whether the team will ‘take a knee’ during the national anthem,” the report states. “Several players expressed their opinion that Head Coach Ferentz is open to listening and has been talking to the leadership group about these issues.”

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