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2018 U. of Iowa Study Found Racial Bias in Football

Paul Steinbach

Hawkeye Nation has obtained a document that suggests the University of Iowa athletic department knew over a year ago about the significant problems and inequalities pertaining to race being alleged now by more than 50 current and former players — most notably in a June 3 tweet by former Hawkeye offensive lineman James Daniels, now with the Chicago Bears.

A Kansas City law firm, hired by Iowa, is currently investigating the allegations and is expected to complete and submit its report by the end of this month.

The document obtained by HawkeyeNation.com gives clear indications that greater change was needed some time ago, but pressure to take action increased when former student-athletes spoke out publicly amid the nationwide firestorm following George Floyd's death in May while in Minneapolis police custody. Presented to the athletic department in early 2019, the report details many of the same racial bias allegations raised by the players last month. A Diversity Task Force (DTF), comprised of nine UI employees who conducted interviews in fall 2018, created the nine-page report, the website reported.

The DTF interviewed 50 current and former black and white student-athletes, senior- or mid-level staff members in UI athletics management, and staff members holding positions as coach, operations director, athletic training, or strength and conditioning across the entire athletic department.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta acknowledged June 15 that “while no teams or individuals were singled out, it was reported verbally that many of these comments were coming from football.” No other recent student-athletes from Hawkeye sports programs outside of football have issued known public claims of racial discrimination.

The key theme of the report, Barta stated at that time, was Black student-athletes did not feel comfortable being their authentic selves. Interviewees for the report answered questions anonymously, and no specific staff members were named in the allegations.

This latest information shows that head football coach Kirk Ferentz knew well before the June social media storm that Black players felt they were:

  • Expected to conform to White culture
  • Subjected to verbal harassment
  • Targeted for extra drug testing
  • Misled about resources available to them during the recruiting process
  • Subjected to inequitable discipline policies and double standards
  • Misunderstood by both coaches and White players
  • Unsupported in their academic pursuits

According to HawkeyeNation.com, the report indicated that these issues combined to create an environment that caused Blacks to transfer from Iowa at a higher rate than whites — in fact, at Iowa, the rate differential in the football program was the highest in the entire Big Ten Conference. It also suggested a lack of knowledge or understanding among coaches and staff about the reasons for transfers and the resulting low graduation rate among black student-athletes.

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