Iowa players voice unity amid racism allegations in program

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FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2019, file photo, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz watches from the sideline during the second half of the team's Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game against Southern California in San Diego. Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle has been placed on administrative leave after several black former players posted on social media about what they described as systemic racism in the program. Ferentz made the announcement Saturday, June 6, 2020, calling it "a defining moment for Iowa's football program in a video posted on the team's Twitter account. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez, File)

Iowa players returned to campus Monday to prepare for voluntary workouts amid an uproar after former Hawkeyes alleged systemic racism and other mistreatment in the program, the team's strength coach was placed on administrative leave and coach Kirk Ferentz's leadership was called into question.

About two dozen current players took to social media to voice messages of unity, with several referencing the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the social unrest in the country. None complained directly about his treatment inside the Iowa program.

“I'm a human before an athlete, I'm black before anything,” redshirt freshman receiver Desmond Hutson tweeted. “There is an obvious problem and it's up to us to fix it.”

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Noah Fenske, who is white, tweeted he's on a team of brave men who want positive change.

“I'll be honest many tears rolled down my face during an hour and a half meeting of raw emotion and pain that we as players have felt during our short or longer periods at Iowa,” Fenske wrote.

Ferentz, the nation's longest-tenured coach at one school at 22 years, indicated he was caught off guard when he read what ex-Hawkeyes offensive lineman James Daniels, now with the Chicago Bears, tweeted Friday.

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long,” Daniels wrote.

Dozens of former players followed with anecdotes about bullying, racist remarks and other mistreatment while they were at Iowa. Several African American former players brought up issues they attributed to Doyle.