James Daniels Alleges ‘Racial Disparities’ In The Iowa Football Program

Iowa offensive lineman James Daniels speaks to the media during NFL Combine press conferences
Joe Robbins / Getty Images

Former Iowa Hawkeyes center James Daniel took to Twitter on Friday night to make an allegation that there are too many “racial disparities” in head coach Kirk Ferentz’s program. Not long after he posted his comments on social media, several current and former members of the program came forward to agree with him.

“There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.”

Tevaun Smith, a wide receiver under Ferentz from 2012-2015, responded to Daniels’ tweet with one of his own. Smith told Daniels he saw a lot of his teammates deal with issues during his time there. He added that he was glad someone was finally speaking up about them.

A third former Hawkeye stepped forward about an hour after Daniels made his post. Amani Hooker, a safety who is now with the Tennessee Titans and just finished his rookie year in the NFL. He posted a tweet in response to Daniels’ agreeing with the assertion that the culture in Iowa City and on campus was different for black players than it was for white players.

“I remember whenever walking into the facility it would be difficult for black players to walk around the facility and be themselves. As if the way you grew up was the wrong way or wasn’t acceptable & that you would be judge by that and it would impact playing time.”

In a subsequent post, Hooker said there was a sense of constant anxiety for a lot of the black players on the team. He added that there was a pressure to change in order to play the game and get on the field. He also said the worries and anxiety surrounding the culture in Iowa City would affect some players’ schoolwork and how they performed on the field.

Daniels and the other players’ allegations came just one day after Ferentz appeared on Scott Van Pelt’s program on ESPN. Ferentz went on the program to talk about his and his team’s reaction to the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that broke out all over the country last week.

While neither Daniels nor the other players specifically named Ferentz as the person who was leading the charge to make things more difficult for the black players, many of them talked about the culture. Another former player, Emmanuel Rugamba, posted a story about an assistant coach who he alleged talked to a black player in a way that stood out to him as unusual.