The University of Iowa has placed longtime strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle on paid administrative leave based on allegations Iowa football players made regarding Doyle's racist and abusive acts.
“I’m concerned about the recent comments being voiced by several former Hawkeye football players on social media. It is important that we reach out and listen to both current and former student-athletes. We must be willing to improve and change,” athletic director Gary Barta said in a university press release, as reported by hawkeyenation.com.
“I have been in contact with both [head coach] Kirk Ferentz and Chris Doyle during the last 24 hours. Kirk and I have agreed to place Coach Doyle on immediate paid administrative leave and begin an independent external review of the program. Assistant football Strength and Conditioning Coach Raimond Braithwaithe will assume leadership of the Iowa football Strength and Conditioning program during this period.”
Doyle came to Iowa with Ferentz in 1999. His $800,000 annual salary ranks highest among strength and conditioning coach in college football. His tenure in Iowa City has not been without past controversy. Thirteen football players were hospitalized in 2011 following an extreme workout that led to a lawsuit and settlement. Eight months later, Doyle was named assistant coach of the year by Ferentz.
Ferentz first addressed the charges against Doyle in a media release Saturday.
“Over the past 24 hours I have seen some difficult and heartbreaking posts on social media. I appreciate the former players’ candor and have been reaching out to many of them individually to hear more about their experiences in our program. I am planning on talking to all of them in the coming days. This is a process that will take some time, but change begins by listening first,” Ferentz stated, according to hawkeyenation.com. “Many of the discussions have centered around our strength and conditioning program and coach Chris Doyle. I have spoken with him about the allegations posted on social media. They are troubling and have created a lasting impact on those players. Therefore, coach Doyle has been placed on administrative leave immediately while there is an independent review. He and I agree that all parties will have their voices heard and then a decision about how to move forward will be made.”
Doyle responded Sunday.
"I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do," Doyle said in his own statement, posted on Twitter. "There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and like every American citizen, can do better. At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race. I do not make racists [sic] comments and I don't tolerate people who do.
"I am confident that a complete review of the body of work over 21 years will speak for itself and I am trusting the process to respect the rights and experiences of all parties involved. There are countless men of character who are better fathers, husbands, activists, leaders and contributors to society due to their experience at Iowa Football. The record will show this."
In a video conference with media members previously scheduled for Sunday, Ferentz said in response to the Doyle tweet, "I don't remember using the word 'silent.' I've always been a person who ... you have to be cautious what you put out.
"I'm not here to tell Chris what to do," Ferentz continued, as reported by Sports Illustrated. "I would also suggest that when you feel like you're being wrongly accused of things, or what have you, you want your day to voice your side of things. And I can appreciate that. Just like my players, I'm not here to muzzle anybody, to tell them what to say or what not to say."
According to SI, Ferentz said he had spoken to Doyle on "numerous occasions" over the weekend.
"I'm worried about everybody involved in the program, and his well-being, his family's well-being," Ferentz said. "You can only imagine the impact it has on everybody what's going on right now."