Akrum Wadley says ‘living nightmare’ to play for school
Kirk Ferentz details the “emotional” team meeting that occurred Monday once players returned to campus
Akrum Wadley released a statement Monday alleging mistreatment so bothersome from his Iowa football coaches that he now regrets ever playing for the Hawkeyes.
“What you see on TV isn’t what you get behind closed doors,” the statement from the recent Hawkeye standout concluded.
Wadley compiled 3,633 rushing and receiving yards with 35 touchdowns as a Hawkeye running back from 2014-17. Yet he said playing on Saturdays was his only relief after enduring mental and physical anguish during the week at the hands of his coaches.
Wadley’s statement, posted on the Facebook page of Pre-PostGame CEO Robert T. Green, mentioned head coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, director of player development Broderick Binns and former strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
Green’s Massachusetts-based company is “designed to empower athletes on the business of sports.” He has been representing some former Hawkeyes as they speak out about their experiences in Kirk Ferentz’s program.
About 50 former Iowa players, most of them Black, have gone public this month with claims of racial bias within the program. Doyle was singled out by many and has since been removed from the coaching staff under an agreement in which he admitted no guilt and will be paid $1.1 million. The university has hired a law firm to conduct a review of the football program.
Kirk Ferentz has held two news conferences on the topic in which he promised to listen to former players and take steps to make the team he has coached for 21 years more inclusive. The law firm’s findings should be available to Iowa officials soon, if athletic director Gary Barta’s timeline from two weeks ago was accurate.
Wadley on Monday reiterated his claims that Brian Ferentz, Kirk’s son, on several occasions jokingly asked him if he was on his way to commit a robbery when Wadley was leaving the football practice field while wearing a team-issued wool hat that covered his face in cold weather. He wrote of another time when Brian Ferentz cursed at him and threatened him for parking in an unmarked spot at the football facility before heading to take an exam.
“I was angry, frustrated and numb all at the same time,” Wadley wrote.
Wadley said Kirk Ferentz would prepare notes instructing him what to say to the media in interviews. One topic that consistently came up was Wadley’s weight, with Ferentz and other coaches bringing up the need for Wadley to check in at 190 pounds or more, which was a challenge for the 5-foot-10 native of New Jersey.
Wadley said trying to consume pounds of energy drinks before working out left him vomiting and achy, at first once a week and eventually daily. He said Kirk Ferentz followed through on a threat to cancel his meal card and that he resorted to eating dinner at a fan’s house. He said news of other punishments was delivered to him by Binns, but that he received no explanation for the reasons.
The Facebook post Monday included a screen shot of a text-message chain reportedly between Wadley and Binns in which Binns informs the player that he must perform 20 hours of community service, as ordered by Brian Ferentz. “I don’t know what you did,” the texter that is allegedly Binns says at one point.
Binns, a Black former Iowa player, has been named interim director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the athletic department and is a key figure in the school’s response to claims of racial insensitivity within the football program.
Wadley said he thought about leaving the team often and that he turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
“I felt like playing for Iowa football was a living nightmare,” Wadley said.
“I am done giving them power over me. But if I could do it all over again, 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.”
Wadley is an unsigned NFL free agent after a brief stint with the Tennessee Titans in 2018.