By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – In the independent review of allegations of racial bias within the Iowa football program, current and former Iowa players said that the “family atmosphere” Iowa touted during recruitment was found to be untrue once they arrived on campus.
In the review, which was performed by Kansas City law firm Husch Blackwell and released Thursday, the players said they felt deceived and were not informed that they would have to “conform to a specific mold” at Iowa.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta and head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke to the media Thursday about the statements made by the players.
“Recruiting, making sure that or in this case expressing concern that there’s a disconnect between a message that we send in recruiting versus what some student-athletes experienced when they got here, particularly or specifically I think it was mentioned creating a family atmosphere versus then when I arrived not understanding that the Iowa way and the expectations that were connected to that,” Barta said. “So a disconnect in that recruiting message.”
Ferentz, who is entering his 22nd year at Iowa and is the longest tenured football coach in the country, was asked Thursday about how he thinks recruiting visits in the homes of Black athletes may be different in the future.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” Ferentz said. “I’ll tell you this, I’m not quite 65 yet, but I’ve never really had any difficulty going to anybody’s home in good situations or bad situations because it gets down to telling the truth, it really does, being transparent, talking honestly and directly. I really haven’t had that be a challenge and I don’t anticipate that.
“It’s like being here today. There are questions I’ll have to answer I’m sure with some, but that’s part of what we do, and what we do is all out there right now, so it’s my job to take responsibility for whatever may have happened and make sure that we are taking the necessary stops to show growth, to show improvement and then continue those steps moving forward.”
Iowa currently has 17 players verbally committed to its 2021 recruiting class, two of which, Ohio quarterback Joe Labas and Florida defensive back Jordan Oladokun, have come since the allegations of racial bias began to surface on social media in early June.
Iowa’s class is currently ranked No. 15 nationally, according to Rivals.com.
Ferentz said the reaction from recruits has been positive, but acknowledged that there is still work to be done between now and the early signing period in December.
“Just like our players on campus, we’ve been very transparent and very direct with our recruits, too, and so they’re not reading about this as yesterday’s news,” Ferentz said. “They’re hearing it from us, and I would say they’ve been fantastic. We’ve been well-received, and we’ve talked about the things that we consider to be issues that have been addressed and things we’re going to do moving forward. They’ve been absolutely fantastic. But it’s a long road until December or whenever signing ends up being, but the players have been great.”