Iowa University football strength coach Chris Doyle is currently feeling the power of social media.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz announced the long-time staff member would remain on administrative leave until the conclusion of an independent review; looking into numerous claims that Doyle created a hostile environment and contributed to “racial disparities in the Iowa football program.”
Several former Iowa football players came forward with complaints about Doyle over the past couple of days; as police brutality and systematic racism as a whole are protested around the globe.
“Over the past 24 hours I have seen some difficult and heartbreaking posts on social media,” he said in a video statement.
“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.”
Doyle took to Twitter to address the issue and defend himself as well.
“I have been asked to remain silent but that is impossible for me to do. There have been statements made about me that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect; but at no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based on race,” he said.
“I do not make racist 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.”
Below a Tweet from now-Chicago Bears offensive lineman James Daniels is a thread of several negative experiences different players had during their time in Iowa City.
“When I committed to Iowa, my main focus was to play the game that I love, make an impactful impression towards the team and make my family proud,” said Maurice Fleming; who graduated from Iowa but used his final year of eligibility at West Virginia.
“However being a part of he the program was detrimental to my mental health. No longer was it just about playing the game of football, being at Iowa over my four year tenure I developed self-hate. I knew that being a prideful black young man would cost me certain opportunities that I felt I deserved.”
Emmanuel Rugamba, who also transferred from Iowa, recounted some times he witnessed Doyle act inappropriately. Rugamba said Doyle yelled he would put a player “back on the streets,” for not cleaning up his workout station; despite the player coming from a stable home and family.
Doyle also allegedly mocked the same player in a previous incident. After the unnamed player told Doyle he had been at “my girl house,” the night before; Doyle sagged his pants, turned his hat backwards and exaggerated how the player spoke.
“At 18-21 years old, seeing others treated this way made you walk on egg shells,” he wrote. “Unable to be yourself, constantly trying to fit the Iowa Culture caused anxiety that could be unbearable at times with your dreams and career on the line.”
Terrance Pryor, a former linebacker said he also witnessed many racist comments made while a Hawkeye; and once found himself on the receiving end.
“Maybe you should take up rowing or something you know? Oh wait, Black people don’t like boats in water, do they,” Pryor said he recalls.
Despite the many stories emerging about Doyle; former player Anthony Herron said that while he certainly made black players uncomfortable he wasn’t some “raving racist.”
Doyle has worked as the Strength and Conditioning coach for Iowa since 1999; and was the highest paid such coach in the country last year.