The naming of Brian Ferentz as offensive line coach for the University of Iowa football program has called into question who actually made the hiring decision and whether the school's nepotism policy was violated. Ferentz, who played football at Iowa as recently as 2005, is the 28-year-old son of Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz. He served as an assistant coach for the New England Patriots for the past four years before being announced as one of two additions to the Iowa staff Feb. 18.
At a press conference Wednesday, the younger Ferentz indicated that his father had "reached out" to him - an apparent contraction of athletic director Gary Barta's assertion that it was he, not the senior Ferentz, who had made the hiring decision. "Once he had an idea of what he wanted to do, he reached out to me," said Ferentz of his father, who also attended the press conference. "It was a no-brainer. You can't say no to your father. And for me personally it was hard to say no to Iowa."
According to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, the university's nepotism policy states that hiring involving blood relatives "should be avoided where possible, and otherwise disclosed and managed" to ensure employees are treated fairly. The policy further states that there must be a "sound institutional reason" for making such a hire, and that the relative with decision-making power is removed from decisions affecting the other's employment.
Earlier Wednesday, details of how Iowa intends to manage the situation moving forward were released. Such plans are considered personnel records and are not subject to Iowa's open records law. However, Kirk and Brian Ferentz agreed to release the plan following a request from the Associated Press. University spokesperson Tom Moore said that Barta's management plan had been approved by a university committee and that committee co-chair Tom Rice had expressed confidence that the management plan would be successful. Barta has indicated that he will be able to evaluate Brian Ferentz's peformance since he attends practices and games.
In a memo to Iowa's vice president for human resources dated Feb. 17, Barta said Brian Ferentz's application had been approved, that he was one of four candidates interviewed by Barta and that Kirk Ferentz "purposely did not participate" in the process, the Telegraph Herald reported. "I was very interested in pursuing Brian Ferentz to become a member of our football staff due to his strong experience and success in the professional coaching ranks," Barta wrote. "I worked through UI policies and procedures and we were subsequently able to convince Brian to apply."
The elder Ferentz, preparing for his 14th season as Iowa's head coach, revealed Wednesday that he had rejected Brian's application to be a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes following his playing days, encouraging him at the time to learn from other coaches. This season, Brian will be coaching his brother, junior James Ferentz, the team's starting center. Another brother, Steve, is expected to walk on as a freshman this fall.