Former Iowa RB Akrum Wadley alleges mistreatment within program, says he regrets playing for Hawkeyes

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Allegations of player mistreatment within Iowa’s program keep coming to light weeks after the program parted ways with strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. Former Iowa running back Akrum Wadley released a statement on Monday detailing his negative experience with the Hawkeyes, going so far as to say it was a “living nightmare” and he wished he never played there.

The statement was released by Robert T. Green, CEO of Pre-Post Game, a sports advisory firm currently representing several former Iowa players. In it, Wadley mentions Doyle along with head coach Kirk Ferentz and his son, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. 

“I felt like playing for Iowa Football was a living nightmare,” Wadley wrote, adding later “my time at Iowa has done things to me that I am not going to discuss because knowing how these people treated me and other black athletes. I am done giving them power over me. But if I could do it all over again, I wish I never played for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I would not encourage any future athletes or parents to send your kid to go play for the Iowa Hawkeyes under that current coaching staff.”

The allegations made by Wadley include:

Being repeatedly asked by Brian Ferentz if he planned to rob a liquor store or a gas station whenever he was seen wearing a team-issued wool cap. Being targeted, along with other Black players, for not gaining enough weight during the season. Being ordered to complete 20 hours of community service by Brian Ferentz for unknown reasons, according to a text message allegedly between Wadley and director of player development Broderick Binns. 

Wadley played for the Hawkeyes from 2013-17, compiling 2,872 career rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. He led the team with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in his junior and senior years. Despite his success, however, Wadley claims he and other Black players were targeted by the Ferentz, his son and Doyle, the latter of whom has disputed the negative experiences shared by roughly 50 former Iowa players, most of them Black. Doyle and Iowa parted ways on June 14 with Doyle receiving more than $1 million. 

“My experiences with people outside of the program in the Iowa community are ones that I cherish and will be with me forever grateful for. My hope is my story and those of my teammates save others from the experiences, truths and mistake of playing under and for a coaching staff at Iowa that did and said nothing to stop the bullying and racism from happening to us under Chris Doyle, Brian Ferentz and Kirk Ferentz. What you see on TV isn’t what you get behind closed doors.

In a statement to the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s athletic department said that Ferentz would not comment publicly on the matter. Ferentz previously held a press conference and released a video promising change following the widespread allegations within the program. 

“Coach Ferentz believes that meaningful change takes time and a thorough independent examination is already underway,” the statement said. “He remains committed to creating a more inclusive culture for all of his players now and in the years to come.”

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