Court: Black ex-Hawkeyes can proceed with parts of lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal lawsuit brought by a group of former Iowa football players alleging staff members mistreated Black players will move forward, but all or parts of some of the allegations were thrown out Thursday.

Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and former strength coach Chris Doyle remain the focal points of the lawsuit filed in Iowa’s southern district.

The former players allege they were demeaned with racial slurs, forced to abandon Black hairstyles, fashion and culture to fit the “Iowa Way” promoted by head coach Kirk Ferentz, and retaliated against for speaking out.

The university agreed to pay Doyle $1.1 million in a resignation agreement last June, after scores of former players said on social media that he had bullied and discriminated against them. Doyle has denied the allegations.

An investigation by an outside law firm later found the program’s rules “perpetuated racial and culture biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity” and allowed coaches to demean players without consequence.

In her order, U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose released athletic director Gary Barta and current strength coach Raimond Braithwaite as defendants.

Former players Aaron Mends, Brandon Simon, Javon Foy, Akrum Wadley, Marcel Joly, Jonathan Parker and Darian Cooper will be allowed to pursue claims of intentional discrimination by Brian Ferentz and Doyle.

Foy, Mends and Simon also can proceed with an allegation of the program having a racially hostile environment.

The judge threw out an allegation that Mends was retaliated against for complaining about or supporting teammates’ claims of racially discriminatory conduct.

Also dismissed were allegations that Iowa created and maintained a systemic pattern and practice of unlawful race discrimination, that Kirk Ferentz failed to train and supervise his staff and a claim of breach of contract between the players and the Ferentzes and Doyle.

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