By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz hasn’t made any public comments since news broke that he has dissolved an advisory committee of former players that was created in 2020 to help create a more inclusive culture within the Iowa program.
But he has reached out to the parents of his players in a letter in which Ferentz disputes reports that the committee was dissolved or disbanded.
The letter appears to have been sent exclusively to the Des Moines Register, which posted the letter on Twitter before also publishing an article.
“It has been reported that this group has disbanded or dissolved. That is not accurate,” Ferentz said in the letter that was sent on Jan. 11. “Several members indicated their interest in stepping away from the committee in December, as they felt their work had made a real impact and the time was right to transition to a new group of voices.”
Ferentz said that much of the information that has been reported was incorrect and references made about his intentions are not accurate.
He called it sad.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette first reported Sunday that the advisory committee had been dissolved and based the report on an e-mail that Ferentz sent to members of the advisory committee on Jan. 11 in which he said the committee had been dissolved.
But Ferentz also said in the e-mail that he planned to restructure the committee.
Ferentz said in his letter to the parents that the group, meaning the committee, is ongoing and that he is in the process of inviting new members to join the group.
He plans to focus on former players that competed at Iowa more recently because he believes younger voices are needed moving forward.
“While the perspective of history was important in the early days of this advisory group, I believe the views of players who competed as Hawkeyes more recently are important for what is coming next,” Ferentz said in the letter. “The new edition of the group, which will be made up of players who completed their careers not long ago, joined by select outside voices.”
“They will add fresh perspectives to inform my thought process.”
Ferentz pointed out in the letter that the committee has no official decision-making power and was created to help him, and that it was not initiated by or connected in any official capacity to the university or the athletic department.
He praised the committee for its efforts and listed in the letter some of the achievements that have occurred since the turbulent summer of 2020.
“Some of the changes we made are easy to see, including relaxing the dress code in the building, allowing the players to be on Twitter, and permitting the players to express their opinions during the National Anthem – whether they chose to stand or kneel,” Ferentz said. Others are harder to quantify to those outside the program – many on the roster will tell you they feel more welcomed and supported, which is a step in the right direction.”
Ferentz said he made the decision to dissolve the committee in November, and it came in the wake of a Oct. 18 meeting with Iowa assistant coaches and members of the advisory committee that became contentious.
The committee was formed shortly after multiple former Iowa black players had accused the program of racial disparities in June 2020.
What was supposed to be a 30-minute meeting during Iowa’s bye week in October lasted over two hours and went in a direction that committee chairperson David Porter considered troubling.
Porter had given the assistant coaches a question to answer two months earlier asking what their role was in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) environment and what have you done to help foster that environment.
He was expecting each of the assistants to answer, but only some did.
The meeting eventually unraveled, and shortly thereafter, Ferentz made the decision to dissolve the committee, but also with plans to restructure and form a new committee with different players.
Porter has been at the center of a firestorm since the Gazette article mentioned a group message that Porter sent to members of the committee Jan. 2 in which Porter said Ferentz should retire, and that his staff should also be replaced.
Porter said Monday on the Hawk Fanatic radio show that he wasn’t aware that Ferentz had dissolved the committee when he sent the message.
Porter also said he still considers Kirk Ferentz a friend, and hoped that Ferentz still felt the same about him.
Ferentz stressed in the letter the importance of staying connected to the alumni moving forward.
“As I’ve said before, being a Hawkeye does not stop when someone takes off their jersey,” Ferentz said. “We value the input of alumni. The men who have come through this program have built the foundation that we live off today.”