Iowa City, Iowa – A lawyer for 13 former footballers in Iowa announced Thursday that he has filed a lawsuit alleging that his clients suffered racial discrimination under longtime coach Kirk Ferents.
The plaintiffs, including former co-star Akram Wadley and professional receptions leader Kevunte Martin Manly, were subjected to “dangerous and widespread discrimination and harassment,” according to a press release from attorney Damario Solomon Simmons.
They claimed they were insulted by racist slurs, forced to abandon black hairstyles, fashion and culture to fit the “Iowa Way” promoted by Ferentz, and retaliated against speaking out, according to the press release.
The lawsuit was anticipated but not immediately available to the public in Polk County, as it takes a day or more to process court files.
The names of the defendants, Solomon Simons said, are the school, sports director Gary Barta, Frientes, his son, attack coordinator Brian Ferrentes, assistant coach Raymond Braithwaite and former assistant coach Chris Doyle.
Iowa agreed to pay Doyle $ 1.1 million in a resignation agreement in June, after dozens of ex-players said on social media he had bullyed and discriminated against. Doyle has denied the allegations.
An investigation by an outside law firm later found that the program’s rules “perpetuate racial and cultural bias and reduce the value of cultural diversity” and allowed coaches to insult players without consequence.
Kirk Ferrentz has taken steps to address concerns and recently kneeled some players while playing the national anthem for the first time in school history. At the same time, Iowa has not publicly announced any discipline against Brian Ferrentes, who has been accused of some inappropriate behavior towards the players.
Iowa, 1-2, is set to play in Minnesota on Friday night in one of the highlights of the college football competition for the Floyd of Rosedale Cup.
The school has already rejected the former players’ request to sack Barta and both Ferencz, and pay $ 20 million in damages.
On Thursday, Iowa state said stories shared by former athletes “led to a strong commitment to improvement” and indicated that those who left without a degree qualify for financial aid if they return to graduation.
“To that end, the University of Iowa continues to work hard to become a more inclusive campus for all students,” her statement said. “We appreciate the athletes who use their voices as we are on a positive path forward with our team.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Solomon Simmons said he was submitting civil rights complaints to federal and state agencies, saying players were “being denied the benefits of a quality education and the opportunities for excellence.”