By Dallas Jones
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Raimond Braithwaite is in his 17th year as a member of the Iowa football team’s strength and conditioning program, but his role has changed dramatically since last June.
First promoted to interim director in June of 2020, Braithwaite was officially named as director in March of this year.
Many of the questions Braithwaite is facing as the new leader of the Iowa strength and conditioning program revolve around former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and allegations of racial bias within the program, which were brought to light last summer by dozens of Black former players.
Most of the accusations centered around Doyle.
“Obviously, everything was so sudden and abrupt with the way change occurred,” Braithwaite said. “A thing that really helped was the team and, the coaches, and the staff. Everybody was really invested in the strength in our program and my success.”
Doyle and Iowa reached a separation agreement on June 15, 2020, and Doyle was paid $1.1 million as part of the agreement.
Several former Iowa players filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the program last November that is still ongoing, and also includes offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, who is the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Change of leadership within the program brings up questions about how the culture has or has not changed under new leadership.
Braithwaite already has the respect from the players in the program, and he uses his nearly two decades of experience to help the team stay focused on moving forward.
“I didn’t have to sit down and tell guys this is how it is because we have a very solid culture in place,” Braithwaite said. “The guys understand what it means to train in our weight room and our program…I had been around for so long that guys knew me, so that transition and getting used to me in this different role wasn’t really hard for the guys on the team.”
This smooth transition has allowed Braithwaite to still implement the same practices that players are comfortable with, while learning from the past experiences.
Braithwaite is also committed to being heavily involved in the recruitment process, as many people have voiced their concerns about not only how the past events affect the current players, but potential recruits in the future.
“I have the opportunity to meet with recruits on a one-to-one basis, just like Chris did in the past, so that has not changed at all.” Braithwaite said. “It’s more me explaining what our strength and conditioning program entails. Not much about what has happened in the past.”
Beyond the changes in leadership, this summer also offers a much different experience for the players and staff compared to the summer of 2020, as training groups in the previous summer were sectioned off into groups to train, lift, and eat with by position last year to help prevent contact tracing of COVID-19.
“They enjoy actually enjoy being around one another,” Braithwaite said. “Just the team cohesion and guys being able to be around each other is huge.”