IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s now official.
A civil lawsuit against the University of Iowa, along with current and former football coaches, has officially been field by a group of 13 black former Iowa players, accusing the university and coaches of racial disparities and mistreatment.
Plaintiffs are are Brandon Simon, Akrum Wadley, Jonathon Parker, Marcel Joly, Aaron Mends, Maurice Fleming, Reggie Spearman, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Darian Cooper, LaRon Taylor, Terrence Harris, Javon Foy and Andre Harris.
Defendants named include the University of Iowa, Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and current strength and conditioning coach Raimond Braithwaite.
Oklahoma attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons released a statement Thursday in which he accuses the Iowa football program of racism, disparate treatment and hostile environment.
Simmons listed these complaints and accusations
-Due to the serious and pervasive discriminatory treatment and harassment, Plaintiffs were denied the benefits of a quality education and opportunities to excel while at the University of Iowa.
-Defendants constantly berated Plaintiffs with racial slurs like “dumbass black player,” forced Plaintiffs to abandon natural and common African-American hairstyles, dress, and culture to fit the “Iowa Way,” and inflicted unfair and retaliatory punishment on Plaintiffs for speaking out against the discrimination they experienced and witnessed.
-Iowa sanctioned and paid for an investigation conducted by the law firm Husch Blackwell, LLP which found “in sum, the [the Iowa football program’s] rules perpetuated racial and culture biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity . . . the program . . . maintained a culture that allows coaches to demean players.”
-Athletic Director Gary Barta never corrected the behavior of his coaches, rather he enabled this culture of racial discrimination to persist.
-Coach Kirk Ferentz admitted he failed to make the necessary changes to correct the culture of racial and cultural biases against African American players.
-Coach Ferentz’s son, Coach Brian Ferentz, was also directly in the middle of many of the facts presented by African American student-athletes and discriminated against Iowa’s student-athletes for years without correction.
-Coach Braithwaite witnessed and condoned the discriminatory treatment Plaintiffs suffered at the hand of Doyle. Nevertheless, he conspired with the other Defendants to thwart Plaintiffs Civil Rights claims during an October 9, 2020 press conference by feigning ignorance four days after Defendants received Plaintiffs October 5, 2020 demand letter.
-Civil Rights Complaints are being filed with the United States Department of Education, United States Department of Justice, and State of Iowa’s Civil Rights Commission.
Doyle was placed on administrative leave in June, shortly after the accusations were made public, and then reached a separation agreement with Iowa.
Kirk Ferentz also has said that other changes are being made, or have been made, to promote a more inclusive and receptive culture within the football program.
The official filing of the lawsuit comes just two days after a settlement was withdrawn. The group of former players had initially demanded the removal of Kirk Ferentz, Brian Ferentz and Gary Barta, along with $20 million in compensation.
Iowa rejected the demands, leading to the lawsuit.
Among the players filing the lawsuit include Iowa’s all-time receptions leader in Martin-Manley and Iowa’s fifth all-time leading rusher in Wadley.
Wadley, Martin-Manley, Darian Cooper, a former defensive lineman from Maryland, and former running back Marcel Joly, are the only players in the group who didn’t transfer from Iowa.
It was previously thought that eight former players would file the lawsuit, but the number has since grown to 13 based on the lawsuit filed in Polk County.
This lawsuit comes less than four years after the University of Iowa had to pay $6.5 million to settle lawsuits asserting it discriminated against former Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and former Iowa Associate Athletic Director Jane Meyer.
Iowa also agreed to pay Doyle $1.3 million as part of his separation agreement.