The foundation of Iowa Hawkeye football was rocked this summer by allegations of racial disparities within the program. More than 50 former players spoke out and told their stories about their experience within the Iowa program. Multiple coaches were named in different stories including Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and his son Brian, who also serves as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator. 

A review done by Husch Blackwell, led the a ‘separation agreement’ with long-time Strength and Conditioning coach Chris Doyle, but didn’t recommend further action against either of the Ferentz’s. Despite the allegations coming to light in June, the media has not had the opportunity to speak with Brian. 

That changed on Thursday. Brian stepped in front of the reporters, cameras and the public and didn’t shy away from the allegations. Before reporters had a chance to speak, Brian went on a 200-second opening statement and faced the allegations head-on.

There was no pushback from Brian. He commended the players who spoke out, offered a sincere apology and dove into a little bit about his process of self growth.

Below is Brian Ferentz’s full opening statement

“Before we get to the 2020 season, I do want to take a moment and talk about the events that transpired over the summer. Starting in early June, a lot of our former players, shared their experiences within our program and thoughts on our program. And it was surprising, difficult, and at time painful to hear those things, but I want to make sure how appreciative and how much I admire and respect the courage of those players to come forward and tell their truth. And to be as thoughtful, honest and as open as they were.

Our goal is very simple, it’s for every player that comes through our program to have academic success, to graduate with a degree from the University of Iowa, to have personal success, grow and mature as a human being, and of course have success on the football field as part of a successful team.

That should be a positive experience for everyone that comes through our program. They should never feel anything but respected and valued as a human being. For any player that had a negative experience in our program, for any player that didn’t feel valued or respected on a human level, I am deeply sorry, and I offer a sincere apology.

My personal goal as a coach is to have a positive impact on young people. It’s painful to learn that I may have fallen short in that department. But I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to learn, grow and improve.

Growth is difficult as I think anyone knows. It requires much introspection, and it requires a lot of reflection. On a lot of reflection, I just like to offer a few final thoughts I have on the subject. I love this program, you know I was born across the street and for every one of my 37 years, as far as I can consciously remember, Iowa football has been part of my life. And it’s important to me. 

I referenced this three years ago when I was introduced as the offensive coordinator across the street. It’s a tremendous privilege to coach here and I think with that privilege comes great responsibility. The responsibility is in the program. When I say the program, I mean players, both current and former, all of our support staff, and the entire coaching staff. 

I feel I have added responsibility because my father’s the head coach. I must be the very best coach and the very best person I can be at all times. And I have been and always will be a work in progress. 

I once had a great teacher that told me ‘be aware of how little you know, that is the most important thing in life.’ And I agree, but it takes the ability to listen, to be aware of how little you know. 

Although this summer was difficult, the last few months could be painful at times, I think it has led to tremendous discovery and growth.” 

Later on in the press conference, Brian opened back up about conversations he had with some of the players, current and former, and gave a specific example of one.

“He told me, ‘Coach, sometimes you’re just abrasive and your comments could be hurtful and I didn’t know how to take that all the time.’,” Brian said. “… When I hear something like that, it’s disappointing and I’m disappointed in myself that I couldn’t be empathetic, that I couldn’t understand how I was being perceived by that player. It’s not so much, ‘What did I say?’ It’s more about asking the question ‘What did you hear?'”

About 75 minutes after Brian spoke, Kirk came up to the podium. In his last question, Kirk was asked if he has seen a change in Brian over the past several months. 

“One thing about life, we all learn and we all grow, hopefully. And if you’re not, then you’re really not living, in my mind, and you’re not going to survive or do well in life,” Kirk Ferentz said about Brian. “…I think he’s done that, I think a lot of our guys on our staff, we have all given things a lot of thought and what can we do better, how can we do it better and still hold on to the things that we deem to be really important. And that’s what life’s all about, but I think he’s taking advantage of this.”

The Hawkeyes will kickoff their 2020 season on October 24 when they travel to take on Purdue. 

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