Iowa Football Players: Support Kneeling or Don’t Support Hawkeyes

Iowa players are making it clear to fans they will take a stand against racial inequality this season

Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes. ( Matthew Holst/Getty)
Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes. ( Matthew Holst/Getty)
Getty Images

In the wake of allegations of systemic racism in the University of Iowa football program, players on the current team are making it clear to fans that they are going to take a stand against racial inequality and injustice this season.

As part of that stand, the team has apparently decided to kneel during the national anthem once play resumes. In a Twitter post on Monday, sophomore defensive back Kaevon Merriweather said that fans who have a problem with the team taking a knee shouldn’t bother cheering for the Hawkeyes moving forward.

When a fan responded to what he had written in a negative way, Merriweather had a strong response.

This type of message was voiced by about two dozen current players on Iowa’s roster, including freshman receiver Desmond Hutson, offensive lineman Noah Fenske and junior running back Ivory Kelly-Martin.

The outcry around Iowa’s program began when ex-Hawkeyes offensive lineman James Daniels, now with the Chicago Bears, tweeted about mistreatment African-American players had experienced while playing for the school.

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long,” Daniels wrote.

After dozens of other former players followed up with similar sentiments, Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. In a statement, Doyle, the highest-paid strength coach in college football with an annual salary of $800,000, admitted to making mistakes but denied the mistreatment of players and said he never “crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based upon race.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz posted a video to Twitter addressing the situation.

Ferentz, the nation’s longest-tenured coach (22 years), told reporters he was caught off-guard by the allegations and would be creating an advisory committee to examine his program’s culture.

“I did ask multiple players if they feel like I’m part of the problem or if they feel like we can’t move forward with me here,” Ferentz told reporters Sunday. “That’s not what I’ve heard thus far. But my commitment is to us having a good program and having a healthy team and improving the environment.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated that the football team at Iowa State University, and not the University of Iowa, was the subject of this story. We regret the error.

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