Former Iowa Football Star Describes Playing For HC Kirk Ferentz As A ‘Living Nightmare’
The Iowa football program, and head coach Kirk Ferentz, has been under increasing scrutiny over the past month or so after a large group of former Black players have spoken out about alleged mistreatment during their tenures at the school. One of those former players — star running back Akrum Wadley, who played for Iowa from 2014-17 — recently described his experience as a “living nightmare” which has brought even more attention to the situation.
Wadley initially brought attention to his alleged mistreatment in a tweet in early June, which can be seen below.
I got so many stories I can talk about and experiences I had and other teammates but this was one of them. pic.twitter.com/CfK3Ss1TcM
— Akrum Wadley (@akrum_wadley) June 6, 2020
However, according to a Facebook post from Robert T. Green, whose sports advisory firm is working with a handful of former Iowa football players who have spoken out about their experiences with Ferentz, Akrum Wadley revealed even more disturbing details about how he was treated during his time on the team. Although lengthy, the post can be seen here, with snippets of the allegations made by the former running back below.
During the winter, the Iowa coaches handed out black wool NIKE hats to all the players. When we finished practice while leaving the field I liked to put my hat on immediately because it was cold and when sweating I didn’t want to get sick. One time when I was jogging to the facility, Coach Brian Ferentz says, “Hey Akrum, are you going to rob a gas station? I was so upset, but ignored him and kept going. This happened a couple more times in the same situation. The only difference is he said “Akrum are you going to rob a liquor store?” Those other times I just looked back at him and shook my head because I knew responding to him would result in some type of unfair punishment.
I felt like playing for Iowa Football was a living nightmare. I never drank alcohol prior to going to college but based on my experience there it became the only thing I could rely on it seems and was what I did to cope. Game day was the only day that it was somewhat of a relief for me, but that even became difficult based on what happened during the week leading up to it. It was clear to myself and other black teammates we were targeted to the extreme regarding not making Iowa’s required weight. Trying to gain and maintain that weight in a workout after drinking pounds of Powerade and/or shakes right before working out. This made me very sick daily which included vomiting and my body aching. This was happening once a week but then went to happening everyday. I remember those that were in my group which were all Black transferred.
As this was happening as I was trying my best to deal with this to help my teammates. I was threatened by Kirk Ferentz that my meal card would be taken away and I will not eat nor be able to sit with my teammates during eating sessions. He did follow through on his threat. I went to use my meal card and it was declined. I had to call my mother from New Jersey at 10 or 11pm at night because I was hungry to order Dominos Pizza for me. Or I would have to go to a fan’s house earlier at night to eat because there was no way I was going to be able to make it through the next day vomiting, being weak and be able to make it through school and practice that day.
If true, Akrum Wadley’s allegations are a major black eye on both Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa football program. With the former running back admitting how lost he felt without help from a therapist to cope with the issues while on the team, he admitted that he turned to substance abuse to deal with his issues.
Based off of the allegations from former players, the school has hired an outside law firm to review the program and conduct a review.