Eight former Hawkeye players demand $20 million, firing of Ferentz’s, Barta


Eight former Hawkeye football players are demanding the school give them $20 million and fire head coach Kirk Ferentz, assistant coach Brian Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta.

That’s according to an October 5th letter to the University of Iowa procured by The Des Moines Register. The newspaper says the players, all of whom are black, include Akrum Wadley, Kevonte Martin-Manley, Maurice Fleming, Andre Harris, Marcel Joly, Aaron Mends, Jonathan Parker and Reggie Spearman. They claim the football program racially discriminated against them during their Hawkeye careers.

The Register says the eight players are being represented by Tulsa civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, as well as Iowa attorneys Alfredo Parrish and Brandon Brown.

On Sunday, UI general counsel Carroll Reasoner officially replied to the letter, noting the university has already taken steps to implement some of the group’s demands. But she also added that the school would decline the monetary and personnel demands.

In addition to the $20 million and the firing of Barta and the Ferentz’s, the eight players also demanded tuition waivers for any black athlete who did not graduate under Kirk Ferentz, the creation of a board of advisors consisting of black players and anti-racist professionals to oversee the football team, mandatory anti-racist training for athletics staff, and other demands.

Earlier this year several former players came forward claiming racial biases within the program. The school hired an independent firm, Husch Blackwell, to investigate the claims. The group interviewed 45 current and 29 former members of the football team, and 36 current and former employees. It found that many black players felt isolated and unwelcome because the rules of the program required players to adhere to a mold built around the stereotype of a clean-cut, white athlete from a midwestern background. But the report also noted that the coaching staff had made positive improvements since the allegations became public, including the removal of strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, the subject of many racial bias accusations, from the program.