Wadley: 'I Wish I Never Played' At Iowa
Former Iowa running back Akrum Wadley said in a statement posted Monday on Facebook that playing football for the Hawkeyes was "a living nightmare."
Wadley's statement, posted on the Facebook page of Pre-PostGame CEO Robert Green, who is representing Wadley and other former Hawkeyes, claimed mistreatment by Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, and former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
Doyle and Iowa reached a separation agreement two weeks ago after allegations of racial disparities within the program were posted on social media by numerous former players. An independent review into the football program by a Kansas City, Mo., law firm is being conducted because of the allegations.
Kirk Ferentz has had two press conferences since the allegations, vowing to make changes and to "listen" more to players and their concerns.
Wadley had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons with the Hawkeyes in 2016 and 2017. He ranks fifth on Iowa's all-time rushing list with 2,872 rushing yards, and fourth with 28 rushing touchdowns.
Wadley alleged in his statement that on two occasions after practices, when he was wearing a team-issued wool Nike cap, Brian Ferentz jokingly asked him if he was going to "rob" a gas station or a liquor store. He also claimed that, in another incident, Ferentz yelled at him and threatened him when he briefly parked in an unmarked space outside of Iowa's football facility.
Wadley also alleged that Kirk Ferentz prepared notes for him for what to say when speaking to the media, and that Ferentz had Wadley's meal card canceled, forcing Wadley to either have his mother order a pizza for him, or on one occasion have dinner at "a fan's house."
The quest to keep himself at a desired weight dictated by the coaching staff, Wadley said, "made me very sick daily which included vomiting and my body aching."
Wadley, who is from New Jersey, said that in a press conference before Iowa's appearance in the 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, Ferentz was asked about the Hawkeyes going to a city where Wadley could show them around. Wadley said Ferentz responded, "That's the worst thing about it."
According to the transcript provided by ASAP Sports, Ferentz said:
"Wait until all his friends and new friends start calling him for tickets. Then he may not beam — it's not always easy going home for ballgames. That's the next thing he's going to be challenged with.
"I think for he and Ihmir (Smith-Marsette), certainly those are two guys that grew up pretty close to Yankee Stadium. It's got to be exciting and I'm sure their families are very, very excited. It's always neat to have that kind of opportunity to play in Yankee Stadium. I'm sure those guys will be hopefully at their best."
Ferentz later said, when asked about Wadley and Smith-Marsette, another New Jersey native, "I think, you know, certainly Akrum has got a big fan club, I know that, and I think Ihmir does, too. It's really going to be neat for those guys."
Wadley was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Pinstripe Bowl after having 283 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown in Iowa's 27-20 win over Boston College.
Iowa released a statement late Monday, saying that Kirk Ferentz would not comment on "individual unverified accusations posted on social media out of respect for the independent review process." The statement said Ferentz has been meeting with a newly-formed advisory group of 11 former players.
"Coach Ferentz believes that meaningful change takes time and a thorough independent examination is already underway. He remains committed to creating a more inclusive culture for all of his players now and in the years to come," the statement said.
Wadley's statement concluded:
"My time at Iowa has done things to me that I am not going to discuss because knowing how these people treated me and other black athletes. I am done giving them power over me. But if I could do it all over again. I wish I never played for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I would not encourage any future athletes or parents to send your kid to go play for the Iowa Hawkeyes under that current coaching staff. My experiences with people outside of the program in the Iowa community are ones that I cherish and will be with me forever grateful for. My hope is my story and those of my teammates save others from the experiences, truths and mistake of playing under and for a coaching staff at Iowa that did and said nothing to stop the bullying and racism from happening to us under Chris Doyle, Brian Ferentz and Kirk Ferentz. What you see on TV isn't what you get behind closed doors."