CEDAR RAPIDS — Public reaction from former and current Iowa football players about strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle’s resignation Monday has been nearly non-existent.
Doyle agreed to a separation agreement with the school that will pay him just over $1.1 million and give his family health insurance benefits for the next 15 months. In return, Doyle has agreed not to pursue legal action against the university for possible wrongful termination.
The coach had been on adminstrative leave for nine days after a plethora of former players, most of whom are African American, accused him via social media of bullying and racist comments and actions. Iowa has hired a Kansas City law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the entire football program and allegations of racial disparity.
Three former Hawkeye players living in the area reached Tuesday by The Gazette said they did not want to comment on Doyle’s departure or the controversy surrounding head coach Kirk Ferentz’s program. None of the former players who voiced their specific issues with Doyle have commented on Twitter, other than a ‘cheers’ emoji from former running back Marcel Joly that was included with a retweet of the announcement on ESPN of Doyle’s resignation.
Iowa has announced a committee of former players headed by Green Bay Packers lineman Mike Daniels has been set up to give their recommendations to Ferentz about improving program culture and inclusivity. The independent review of the program is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
“On the one hand, we don’t need an independent review to tell us we have issues,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said at a Monday press conference. “We know we have issues, and we have begun to take steps to improve. However, the independent review is important in order to look into specific concerns that have arisen, (been) brought forward. To identify or clarify, maybe expand on some of the things that we are aware of. It has been shared with me that it will take weeks, not months. No hard date on finishing. I’m sure that will depend on where it heads.”
Four former players expressed their gratitude to Doyle on Twitter, led by former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Pat Angerer.
“There’s no coach who has done more for my career and my life than @coach_Doyle,” Angerer tweeted, with a photo of his two young sons with the coach.
“Extremely grateful for all @coach_Doyle did for me during my time with Iowa,” said former offensive lineman Cole Croston. “Helped transform a 220 pound walk on into a 315 pound Big Ten lineman with an opportunity at the next level. Couldn’t have done it without him.”
Former long snapper Tyler Kluver and fellow former walk-ons Kevin Ward and Drake Kulick addressed the situation at Iowa in their popular podcast “Washed Up Walkons,” with all three struggling to find words to explain their conflicted feelings while supporting all of their former teammates who have expressed their misgivings with Doyle and the Iowa program.
“I owe much of who I am to Chris Doyle and that Iowa Program,” Kluver tweeted Monday. “Doesn’t mean he’s perfect, but it does mean he’s important to me. I do believe now that Iowa will be better without him moving forward. I know who I think should replace him.”
Longtime strength and conditioning assistant Raimond Braitwaite, who is black, has taken over Doyle’s duties on an interim basis.
“Thank you for everything @coach_Doyle,” tweeted former Iowa wide receiver Matt Melloy. “You made a lasting impact in my life. I’m Proud to have called you my coach.”
The Big Ten Conference has announced a Big Ten Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition that includes student-athletes, coaches, athletics directors, chancellors, presidents and others representing all 14 league schools. The conference also has formally launched a voter registration initiative.
“The events in our country and around the world during the past few months have strengthened my fundamental belief in our need to develop tangible and actionable efforts in a collective manner and provide viable solutions addressing the issues of hate and racism in our society,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “We have the distinct opportunity and responsibility through our Coalition to continually encourage, educate and empower our student-athletes as we embrace transparent and much-needed dialogue regarding meaningful issues that have impacted race relations for many years.”
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The members of Iowa’s Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition are Barta, Barbara Burke (Deputy Director of Athletics, Senior Woman Administrator), Liz Hollingworth (Faculty Athletics Representative), Vicki Brown (head volleyball coach), Roz Ellis (assistant women’s field hockey coach), Alexis Sevillian (women’s basketball player), Fran McCaffery (head men’s basketball coach), Billy Taylor (assistant men’s basketball coach), Connor McCaffery (men’s basketball/baseball player) and Julius Brents (football player).
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