Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer announced he has hired Chris Doyle as its director of sports performance.
The 52-year-old left Iowa last summer with a $1.1 million separation agreement under tumultuous circumstances, including allegations of racism and bullying. He has continuously denied any “unethical behavior or bias” based on race.
During his press conference on Thursday, Meyer stood by his decision to hire Doyle and noted that owner Shad Khan was involved in the process.
“I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years. Our relationship goes back to when I was at Utah and he was the No. 1 strength coach,” Meyer said. “I vetted him thoroughly along with our general manager and owner. Feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position. So we vetted him thoroughly and sports performance is going to be a high, high priority.”
Meyer also said he is "very confident" there will not be any issues going forward.
“If I was, I wouldn’t have hired him,” Meyer said. “I’ll explain that if that becomes a question. The one thing I’m very confident is that I would imagine within a year or two we’ll have the best sports performance team in the National Football League.”
Doyle was the strength coach for the Hawkeyes for 20 years. He was put on leave after multiple former Iowa players spoke out about their respective negative experiences with Doyle, including allegations of racism. At the time, he was the nation's highest-paid strength coach.
The university conducted an independent review “relating to racial disparities within the football program.”
The players felt compelled to share their thoughts on the program's culture after Ferentz spoke with reporters about social unrest following George Floyd's death.
Jaleel Johnson, who plays for the Vikings, said that Doyle would “go around stepping [on] players’ fingers” during warmups for workouts.
Terrance Pryor opened up about how Doyle confronted him about quitting football as he rehabbed an injury.
Pryor posted on Twitter that Doyle suggested that he “take up rowing or something,” before saying, “oh wait, Black people don’t like boats in water do they?”
“This is one of many racist incidents that Black athletes had to deal with during my time there,” Pryor wrote.
The independent review was released in late July, and the dozens of claims made by former Iowa players were largely corroborated.
“Virtually all the players spoke positively about their position coaches and the influence those coaches have had on their lives, both personally and athletically,” the report said. “Yet numerous players described feeling unhappy and unwelcome, citing to a program culture that they perceive requires strict conformity and rigid adherence to the ‘mold’ of an ideal player, a mold that many Black players felt they could never truly fit because it was built around the stereotype of a clean-cut, white athlete from a midwestern background. Additionally, numerous current and former players and coaches of all races described an environment in which a small number of coaches felt empowered to bully and demean athletes, especially Black athletes.”
Doyle was the only staff member to lose his job despite multiple players saying in the report that the program's issues were “not just a Chris Doyle problem.”