Former Iowa Hawkeyes football players add linebackers coach to discrimination lawsuit

cigaretteman

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Seven former Hawkeye football players accusing the University of Iowa Athletics Department and several coaches of racially-motivated discrimination and harassment have added Seth Wallace, linebackers coach and assistant defensive coordinator, to the list of defendants they’re suing.


Also in an amended suit filed this month with the U.S. District Court, the former players have levied additional accusations against head coach Kirk Ferentz, his son and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and Athletic Director Gary Barta.


The legal battle over allegations of pervasive racism in the Hawkeye football program began in November 2020 following outcry from former players on social media and years of internal and external investigations into accusations of discrimination.


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The players have made myriad requests for hundreds of thousands of documents and investigative reports on coaches, creating a tug of war and accusations of delay tactics — which the UI has vehemently denied, citing the throngs of pages they’ve produced and attorney-client privilege protecting withheld records.


A judge has yet to rule on the players’ demands for documents, although she previously dismissed parts of the lawsuit while allowing two counts to proceed. The former players submitted the revised complaint to resolve “prior deficiencies” in their lawsuit.


The new version adds Wallace as a defendant and levies four additional counts accusing the program and several coaches of discrimination and harassment, failure to provide equal rights and protection, failure to train and supervise staff and retaliation.


Retaliation​


The new retaliation allegation accuses head coach Ferentz of intentional discrimination against Jonathan Parker, who joined the football program in 2013 after de-committing from another college.


Parker, according to the lawsuit, grew “weary from the harassment he and other Black players regularly faced” in the football program and shared his concerns with a UI therapist.


“Jonathan was assured by the therapist that the sessions were confidential,” according to amended lawsuit. “However, K. Ferentz later approached Jonathan and asked how his therapy sessions were going. Caught off guard, Jonathan did not know how to respond and believed himself to be in trouble.”


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Ferentz told Parker the therapist had shared with him the player’s concerns with the program, according to the lawsuit.


“Shaken, Jonathan replied that his therapy sessions were going well and that he was ‘all good,’” the lawsuit alleges. “The conversation affirmed for Jonathan that nothing in the program slipped past K. Ferentz, not even players’ ‘confidential’ therapy sessions.” Parker never returned to the therapist.


The lawsuit also alleged that coach Brian Ferentz berated Parker by using racist language during practice — on one occasion in 2016 screaming at him, kicking a garbage can and shouting, “Only an (expletive) Black player would do it like that,” according to the suit.


“Kirk Ferentz watched the incident unfold from approximately 30 yards away,” according to the lawsuit, noting Parker asked to meet with Kirk Ferentz about the comments a short time later.


“Despite acknowledging that he knew his son used ‘bad’ and ‘inappropriate’ language, K. Ferentz stood by his son’s ‘correction’ of Jonathan and advised Jonathan that he would not side with a player over a coach,” according to the lawsuit. “K. Ferentz then proceeded to steer the conversation to the topic of Jonathan’s future in the program.”


Kirk Ferentz suggested Parker “weigh his options” for the next year, the lawsuit stated. Parker transferred away from Iowa the next year.


UI: No ‘smoking gun“ evidence​


In now adding Wallace, the lawsuit accuses him of discriminating against, bullying, demeaning and harassing Black players “almost daily.” The lawsuit goes into detail about offensive language the former players accuse Wallace, Doyle and Brian Ferentz of using.


“The racially derogatory comments used by Doyle, B. Ferentz, and Wallace were made in open forums during team meetings and at practice regularly, if not daily, in the presence of K. Ferentz, other coaches, and teammates,” according to the lawsuit.


Wallace’s employee file is among many documents the former players have asked the UI to produce in advance of a jury trial set for March 6, 2023.


In February — before the players added Wallace as a defendant — the university objected to that request, among others, noting Wallace’s file is “unrelated in any way to plaintiffs’ claims.”


The university in February noted it had already produced about 200,000 pages of documents in the case. UI attorneys also took issue with the players’ assertions that administrators already had admitted that racial discrimination occurred.


“Plaintiffs begin their motion by spending considerable time asserting, incorrectly, that it has been determined, incontrovertibly, that illegal discrimination occurred within the football program and that defendants have fully admitted to such,” according to the UI response.


The university said it and former coach Doyle “deny any illegal discriminatory behavior occurred and there are no documents showing illegal discrimination that have been discovered.”


On June 14, 2020, the UI and Doyle entered into a separation agreement paying the coach $1.1 million, along with 15 months of benefits.


“Defendants cannot be penalized because they do not have, and never have had, documents that provide ‘smoking gun’ evidence of plaintiffs’ theory of the case,” according to the UI response.


The former players said they are seeking, beyond damages, mandatory anti-racist training for athletic department staff; establishment of a board of advisers consisting of Black football student-athletes and anti-racist professionals; tuition waivers for any Black athletes who attended Iowa during Ferentz’ tenure and did not graduate with a degree; and creation of a permanent senior Black male administrator position.

 

onlyTheObvious

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Jan 3, 2021
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The university of Iowa lawyers don’t seem to have a good track record of success.

a settlement seems likely.

this is small potatoes compared to the brain injury lawsuits that will eventually rock college football get started.
 

Moral

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I am just imagining the victims all sitting together and meditating hard to remember some racism they might have forgot. I'm glad their session worked and they remembered more racisms.
 
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West Dundee Hawkeye

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This lawsuit is increasingly feeling like the players are hoping to put more pressure on the university to settle.
This is not good for Iowa and Iowa should settle without admitting guilt. Iowa should
1. Provide free tuition to any player who wants to take more classes at Iowa
2. Annual mandatory diversity training to all associated with the Football team.
 

sober_teacher

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Mar 26, 2007
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This is not good for Iowa and Iowa should settle without admitting guilt. Iowa should
1. Provide free tuition to any player who wants to take more classes at Iowa
2. Annual mandatory diversity training to all associated with the Football team.

Pretty sure they already, and have done for awhile, #1. And aside from whatever trainings already required from the university, that’s already been included in some of the steps taken since this initially came out for #2.

What ticks me off for all this is that I do believe there were a number of legitimate complaints made by players towards Doyle, BF, and others in the building. For the most part, I also think many of them were or could be attributed to being tone-deaf as to how comments by coaches and staff were being perceived by younger players. Several of the complaints alleged in this lawsuit now come from players who simply seem to have axes to grind against the program and Kirk.

In time I think they end up settling, but stuff like adding Wallace, who as far as I know was never mentioned in earlier complaints, seems more like reaching to me.
 
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ANYCHawk

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Nov 13, 2007
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The university of Iowa lawyers don’t seem to have a good track record of success.

a settlement seems likely.

this is small potatoes compared to the brain injury lawsuits that will eventually rock college football get started.
To be fair those started but the plantiffs forgot about em
 

Rose bowl or bust

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So Parker was concerned that Kirk Ferentz asked him if he was doing alright? If this is all true, shouldn't he be upset and suing the therapist, not KF? Seems like a coach asking if everything is alright is a good thing, but maybe I'm wrong here.

As for the transferring thing...see the gif above. It had nothing to do with his skin color and everything to do with him having average talent and horrible instincts.
 

FtWorthhawkeye

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The stuff with the therapist disclosing info about Parker’s session to KF……yikes
I have a counseler at work funded by our parent company. I have no expectation of confidentiality. I would be interested to know the nature of the “therapy” described here. Ours is in the interest of attaining the best versions of ourselves, ala, Ames College. If it’s a mental health program and that confidentiality was violated I’d be concerned.
 
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Old_wrestling_fan

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I have no knowledge of what happened with the Iowa FB player and any counseling, but I can say that it is common for someone in charge to be notified that a referral was seen(counseled) by a therapist.

It is not common, in my experience, for the contents of the disclosure to be shared, but quite common that the fact that the person attended counseling be "reported on" back to "the boss". Again, not the contents, but the fact that the counseling took place.

It is not terribly clear here what exactly took place. So there may, or may not, be a breach of regular protocol, etc.
 

swagsurfer02

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I have a counseler at work funded by our parent company. I have no expectation of confidentiality. I would be interested to know the nature of the “therapy” described here. Ours is in the interest of attaining the best versions of ourselves, ala, Ames College. If it’s a mental health program and that confidentiality was violated I’d be concerned.

I think what you outlined will be the crux of the issue, and good luck getting any other player to go see anyone in that position again.