Iowa City, Iowa – The attorney general for 13 black ex-Iowa footballers announced Thursday that he has accused his clients of racial discrimination under longtime coach Kirk Friends.
Plaintiffs, including former star Akram Watley and business receptionist Gavon Martin-Manley, have been subjected to “serious and widespread discrimination and harassment,” lawyer Tamario Solomon-Simmons said in a statement.
They allege that they were forced to give up black hairstyles, fashion and culture in line with the “Iowa Way” promoted by Friends, and retaliated against what they said.
The case was expected, but not immediately available to the public in Polk County, where court cases often take a day or more to process.
Solomon-Simmons said the cases were against school defendants, athletics director Gary Barta, Ferents, his son and attack coordinator Brian Frends, assistant coach Raymond Pride White and former assistant coach Chris Doyle.
Iowa agreed to pay $ 1.1 million to Doyle in a resignation deal in June, saying he had harassed and discriminated against a number of former players on social media. Doyle has denied the allegations.
An investigation by an outside law firm later found that the rules of the program “established ethnic and cultural bias and undermined the value of cultural diversity” and allowed coaches to denigrate players without any effect.
Kirk Friends has taken action to address the concerns and some players recently knelt for the first time in school history during the national anthem. At the same time, Iowa has not publicly declared any discipline against Brian Parents, who has been accused of some inappropriate behavior on the part of players.
The 1-2-year-old is scheduled to play for the Floyd of Rosadell Cup, one of the signature matches of college football, in Minnesota on Friday night.
The school has already rejected a request from ex-servicemen to expel both Barta and Ferentice and pay $ 20 million for the damage.
On Thursday, Iowa noted that the stories shared by former athletes have “made a strong commitment to improvement” and that those who graduate without a degree are eligible for financial assistance if they return to graduation.
“To that end, the University of Iowa continues to work hard to become an all-inclusive campus,” the report said. “We appreciate the athletes using their voices and we are on a positive track with our team.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Solomon-Simmons said he would file civil rights complaints with federal and state government agencies, denying soldiers “the benefits of quality education and opportunities to excel.”