In letter to Iowa football parents, Kirk Ferentz says advisory group will continue in different form

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Kirk Ferentz on Monday sent a detailed letter to parents of Iowa football players that said reports that he dissolved his personal advisory group had inaccuracies and that the committee would continue with different members going forward.

The letter, obtained Monday evening by the Des Moines Register, was two pages long and served as the 24th-year Hawkeye football coach’s attempt to respond to the report that first broke Sunday morning from the Cedar Rapids Gazette that reported Ferentz’s Jan. 11 e-mail to the committee that it was being dissolved “in its current form.” The report was picked up by outlets across the nation.

Ferentz outlined in the letter to player parents that the advisory group was initially formed to help him understand racially charged issues and how he could improve following the June 2020 outcry from dozens of Black former players who pointed out racial disparities in his program.

“I created this group to help me,” he stated.

He continued by saying that while it was true that previous members would not be continuing with the group, it was not disbanded.

“Several members indicated their interest in stepping away from the committee in December, as they felt their work had made a real impact and the time was right to transition to a new group of voices,” Ferentz wrote. “Therefore, I made the decision to release the members from their commitment following the (Citrus) bowl game and shared that with them via e-mail. The group is ongoing, and I am in the process of inviting new members to join the group.”

Ferentz praised the outgoing members for their 18 months of service and that “their perspectives helped me identify where we could be better,” and he went on to point out many of the changes that have been widely seen and reported, such as relaxed dress codes, the clearance to kneel during the national anthem and lifting the team’s ban on tweeting. He viewed the 2021 Hawkeyes, which finished 10-4, as one of the closest teams of his 23-year tenure.

“The time and energy the advisory group voluntarily offered was significant,” Ferentz wrote. “After a year and a half of fervent discussions, I felt it was a good time to allow those members who have given so much to step away with my gratitude.”

In concluding his thoughts on the matter, Ferentz said the new advisory group — in whatever form that it takes going forward — would be made up of players who recently completed their Hawkeye careers.

As reported by The Athletic, the previous group consisted of chairman David Porter (who last played in 2002), Jim Caldwell (last played in 1976), Leroy Smith (1991), Matt Bowen (1999), Aaron Kampman (2001), Colin Cole (2002), Robert Gallery (2003), Chigoze Ejiasi (2004), Christian Kirksey (2013), Jordan Lomax (2015) and Desmond King (2016). Of those 11 ex-Hawkeyes, only three played for Iowa in the last 15 years.

“While the perspective of history was important in the early days of the advisory group, I believe the views of players who competed as Hawkeyes more recently are important for what’s coming next,” Ferentz wrote. “The new edition of the group which will be made up of players who completed their careers not long ago, joined by select outside voices. This is in addition to conversations I continue to have with the leadership group, which is made up of current members of our team. And my door is always open for any member of the team to discuss all aspects of our program.”

Kirk Ferentz is beginning his 24th season as Iowa's head football coach, as students start their spring semester Tuesday. Ferentz is 178-110 at Iowa and is signed through 2029.

Ferentz, 66, recently signed a contract extension through the 2029 season that lifts his pay to $7 million per season plus bonuses.

That was something that Porter spoke about in a Sunday interview with the Register.

"If you have an advisory committee that's formed off the heels of a racism scandal, we've (been) doing it a year and a half, that unilaterally gets dissolved on the heels of a seven-year contract extension, the optics just don't look good," Porter said.

Ferentz addressed his contract situation in the letter, as well.

“While the contract was signed on Dec. 31,” he wrote, “I had already told your son during the season I am committed to being the head coach here for many more years.”

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 27 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.