CHICAGO — Defiant Kirk Ferentz rejects the notion that he or anyone else connected with the Iowa football program attempted to “brush aside” allegations made by the mother of a victim in a sexual assault case involving two Iowa football players.
“You can question my ability to coach, you can question my decisions during a game, you can question a lot of things, but to question my character, I take exception to that,” Ferentz said Thursday at the Big Ten’s annual football kickoff.
The 10th-year Iowa coach spoke publicly for the first time since the Iowa Board of Regents voted to reopen an investigation into the university’s handling of the matter.
Regents took that action Tuesday after learning two letters sent by the mother of the female involved in the alleged incident had not been forwarded to the Regents as part of their earlier investigation.
The first of two letters sent by the parent was detailed in a copyright story by the Iowa City Press-Citizen last weekend, alleging athletic department members wanted to keep the matter in house to avoid publicity.
“Anybody involved in a coverup would have to be morally bankrupt,” Ferentz said.
Two former Iowa football players, Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson, are accused of sexually assaulting a female Iowa athlete in a university dormitory in October, 2007.
Everson has been charged with second-degree sexual assault, while Satterfield was charged with second- and third-degree sexual assault.
The two players were withheld from team activities immediately once Ferentz learned of accusations and were later suspended from the team. Both transferred from Iowa at the end of the fall semester.
Ferentz said as football coach, he does not possess the power to revoke an athlete’s scholarship, remove an athlete from school or even remove an athlete from a dormitory.
“I acted on the things a football coach can act on,” Ferentz said. “There was not much more any of us could do or could have done from a coaching standpoint. We took action based on the information available to us.“
He confirmed Thursday that he and director of athletics Gary Barta were among those attending a meeting with the victim within 36 hours after the alleged incident occurred.
“I was uncomfortable being there, but at the time we walked away feeling it was a very productive meeting,” Ferentz said.
Although university policy does not require his attendance, Ferentz said he did so at the insistence of the involved female.
“My actions, at every step of the way, have been done in the interest of concern for the young woman and her family,” Ferentz said. “I think the proper steps were followed every step of the way.”
The father of two college-age daughters, Ferentz said he is sensitive to the type of situation he found himself talking about Thursday.
“This is the stickiest type of situation that a coach deals with, the most unsavory and most distasteful,” he said. “This is first time I have been involved with one and I hope it is the last.”
Ferentz isn’t surprised the general conduct of the Hawkeyes team is under a microscope.
“We’ve opened the door for the type of attention we’ve received,” Ferentz said. “Some of it has been fair, some of it hasn’t, but you can expect negative reporting when the reports are being written about negative behavior.“
A total of 18 Iowa football players have been arrested on 23 offenses in Johnson County since April 2007, including 11 alcohol-related changes.
Hawkeyes involved in incidents since March 1 are subject to stiffer punishments.
That includes incoming freshman Riley Reiff, who was charged with public intoxication and interference with official acts early Saturday after leading eight Iowa City police officers on a 20-minute foot chase through downtown Iowa City shortly after police received a call concerning a man sitting in an alley clothed only in his underwear, according to police reports.
“It’s fair to say his incident is being treated a lot differently than it would have been if it had occurred a year ago. The punishment, it will hurt a lot more,” said Ferentz, declining to discuss specifics.
Steve Batterson can be contacted at (563) 383-2290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.