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Iowa strength coach denies 'unethical behavior or bias'

The Associated Press
Iowa strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Doyle huddles up with players during a Hawkeyes football Kids Day scrimmage, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle denies any "unethical behavior or bias" based on race after being accused by several former players of contributing to what they allege is systemic racism in the program.

Doyle was placed on administrative leave Saturday, part of a decision made by coach Kirk Ferentz in what he called "a defining moment" for Iowa's football program.

Several black former players posted on social media Friday night about issues they saw in the football program, attributing many of them to Doyle. The 51-year-old assistant coach issued a statement Sunday on Twitter in which he applauds the "courage" of the former players and says he is "proud of them" for speaking out, but disputes the claims.

"I have been asked to remain silent, but that is impossible for me to do," Doyle wrote. "There have been statements made about my behavior that are not true. I do not claim to be perfect. I have made mistakes, learned lessons and, like every American citizen, can do better.

"At no time have I ever crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based on race. I do not make racist comments and I don't tolerate people who do."

Chicago Bears guard James Daniels, who played at Iowa from 2015-17, tweeted Friday night that there are "too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long." Former defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie tweeted that the "real change" for the program needs to start with Doyle.

Ferentz said Saturday the school would conduct an independent review into the situation, with all parties able to participate and voice their opinions.

"I am confident that a complete review of the body of work over 21 years will speak for itself and I am trusting the process to respect the rights and experiences of all parties involved," said Doyle, who has been at Iowa since 1999. "There are countless men of character who are better fathers, husbands, activists, leaders and contributors to society due to their experience at Iowa Football. The record will show this."