IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa football’s motion to dismiss a $20 million racial discrimination lawsuit brought forth by eight black former players has been denied.
In a ruling on Thursday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa ruled the lawsuit will proceed and the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to argue in court that the Iowa football program was a “racially hostile environment.”
Among the eight plaintiffs include former star running back Akrum Wadley and receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, who is Iowa’s all-time leader in career receptions.
The court did approve some of Iowa’s requests, including Count II in which the plaintiffs allege that players faced retaliation for making complaints about their treatment in the football program. That count was dismissed.
Other parts of the lawsuit involving specific claims against Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz also were dismissed.
However, specific claims against former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz were not dismissed.
Plaintiffs will have an opportunity to discuss those claims against Doyle and Brian Ferentz in court.
Doyle reached a $1.3 million separation agreement with Iowa last June, and about two weeks after multiple former Iowa black players had accused the program of racial disparities and bullying.
Most of the allegations involved Doyle, who had served as Kirk Ferentz’s strength and conditioning coach since 1999.
Doyle was the highest paid strength and conditioning coach in college football when he stepped down.
Brian Ferentz, who is Kirk Ferentz’s son, and a former Iowa football player, has not faced any disciplinary action, but he did issue a public apology in response to the accusations.
Doyle is the only person to lose his job over the allegations.
Doyle had accepted a job as director of sports performance for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars this past February, but his hiring created an instant firestorm and Doyle then resigned a day after taking the job due to mounting criticism.
Kirk Ferentz admitted to having a blind spot and has vowed to fix Iowa’s culture.
The former players informed the University of Iowa of the lawsuit in an Oct. 5 letter.
The group is represented by Tulsa civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.
In addition to the claims of discrimination, the attorney for the plaintiffs is also demanding the creation of a permanent black male senior administrator position in Iowa athletics, mandatory anti-racist training for athletic staff, the establishment of a board of advisers that includes black players and anti-racist professionals to oversee the program, tuition waivers for any black athlete who did not graduate with a degree during Kirk Ferentz’s 22-year tenure, and attorney fees.