Jags' Meyer defends hiring ex-Iowa coach accused of racism

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FILE - Ohio State NCAA college football head coach Urban Meyer answers questions during a news conference announcing his retirement in Columbus, Ohio, in this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, file photo. A person familiar with the search says Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars are working toward finalizing a deal to make him the team's next head coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, because a formal agreement was not yet in place. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer defended the hiring of a former Iowa assistant accused of racism, saying Thursday he “vetted him thoroughly along with our general manager and owner.”

Iowa agreed to pay strength coach Chris Doyle $1.1 million in a resignation agreement last June after more than a dozen former players said he bullied and discriminated against them. Doyle denied the allegations. An investigation by an outside law firm later found that the program’s rules “perpetuated racial and culture biases and diminished the value of cultural diversity,” and allowed coaches to demean players without consequence.

A lawyer for 13 Black ex-Iowa football players has filed a lawsuit alleging his clients suffered racial discrimination under longtime coach Kirk Ferentz. Doyle is among the defendants.

Meyer officially hired Doyle as Jacksonville's director of sports performance — part of his 30-person staff — and said he will assist the strength and conditioning and athletic training programs. Doyle served as Iowa's strength and conditioning coordinator for more than two decades (1999-2019).

“I feel great about the hire, about his expertise at that position,” Meyer said. "I vet everyone on our staff, and like I said, the relationship goes back close to 20 years and a lot of hard questions asked, a lot of vetting involved with all our staff. We did a very good job vetting that one.”

Meyer added that owner Shad Khan was involved with all of the “high-end hires,” including Doyle. Meyer said he's confident the addition won't be an issue with current player or potential free agents.

“I know the person for close to 20 years and I can assure them there will be nothing of any sort in the Jaguar facility,” Meyer said.

Hiring Doyle rekindled memories of Meyer protecting assistant coach Zach Smith for years at Ohio State. The Buckeyes suspended Meyer for three games shortly before the 2018 season for mishandling Smith's misconduct that included domestic violence allegations, a drug problem and poor job performance.