Former Iowa running back Akrum Wadley issued a statement Monday alleging a culture of bullying and racism in the football program and a lack of oversight from the school to address the issue.
Wadley’s statement was made public in a Facebook post on the account of Robert T. Green, a player representative working with multiple ex-Hawkeyes who have made complaints against head coach Kirk Ferentz’s program.
Former Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle left the program two weeks ago amid allegations that he contributed to a dysfunctional culture for Black players.
The school has hired a law firm to investigate statements made by minority players who also maintain that they were mistreated.
Akrum wrote, “I wish I never played for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I would not encourage any future athletes or parents to send your kid to go play for the Iowa Hawkeyes under that current coaching staff. …
“My hope is my story and those of my teammates save others from the experiences, truths and mistake of playing under and for a coaching staff at Iowa that did and said nothing to stop the bullying and racism from happening to us under Chris Doyle, (offensive coordinator) Brian Ferentz and Kirk Ferentz. What you see on TV isn’t what you get behind closed doors.”
He added, “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.”
Wadley detailed incidents in which, when he wore a team-issued black wool hat, Brian Ferentz would ask him, “Hey Akrum, are you going to rob a gas station?” or “Akrum are you going to rob a liquor store?”
He also stated, “Kirk Ferentz made a way of not letting the athletes speak their mind about anything other than what and when he wanted us to speak.”
Wadley played in 43 games for Iowa from 2014-17, topping 1,000 yards rushing in both his junior and senior seasons. He finished with 2,872 yards and 28 touchdowns on 536 carries, and he added 71 receptions for 761 yards and seven TDs.
Wadley signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2018 but didn’t make the roster. He also had stints with the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football and the Houston Outlaws of the XFL.