Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle defended himself in a statement posted to his Twitter account a day after he was placed on administrative leave following multiple African American former players alleging a culture of racial inequality.
Doyle, the country’s highest-paid strength coach at $800,000 per year, said “I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do.”
“At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race,” said Doyle, who has been at Iowa for all 21 seasons of Kirk Ferentz’s tenure as head coach. “I do not make racists comments and I don’t tolerate people who do.”
Friday, days after Ferentz met with the team to discuss the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department and the ensuing national protests, former Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie said “for this program in particular, real change begins with @coach_Doyle and his Strength & Conditioning staff.”
After former offensive lineman and current Chicago Bear James Daniels said Friday night that “There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program,” more players shared their stories.
Former defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson also brought up offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, saying “Coach Doyle is the problem in that building. And so is Brian Ferentz. Things won’t progress until those two fix themselves. They know they’re a problem. KF isn’t. I respect coach (Kirk) Ferentz wholeheartedly. It’s the other in the building.”
Former Hawkeye Terrence Harris added “The root to all the issues is Coach Doyle. He will throw out many different derogatory sayings or phrases trying to emulate the black culture. He once said to me that ‘he’d gladly send me back to the ghetto’ this type of content was normal from him.”
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Iowa responded Saturday night by announcing Doyle has been placed on paid leave.
Doyle said he “can only imagine how much courage it took” for the players to raise these issues, but said he is “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.”
Here is his full statement:
“For 21 years, I have committed my life to Iowa Football and loved with all my heart, every single one of the young men I’ve gotten to work with and every minute we have spent together in the weight room, on the field and as friends and fellow Hawkeyes. I can only imagine how much courage it took for them to speak out on these serious matters. I am proud of them.
“My job has been to give feedback to our players for 21 years and now I am receiving feedback myself. I can take it and I won’t hide from it. It saddens me to hear the stories of their difficult experiences while in our program, in addition to the outpouring of stories we are hearing across this country.
“It is time to listen, learn and grow. Most importantly, it is a time for action.
“I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do. 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 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.”