Iowa Drug Scandal Day 2: The Cover Your Ass Edition


Iowa Hawkeyes

Things just keep getting weirder in Iowa City.

The Iowa Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa athletic director Gary Barta held a press conference to basically address the rumors of the last 24 hours — that multiple Hawkyes would be suspended and /or booted off the team for drug related offenses.

Though the reports weren’t true…they were kind of.By Paul Schmidt

The Hawkeyes and Ferentz will not be suspending any more players, but they definitely believe that the team was getting high.

Gary Barta basically admitted this fact at the press conference.

“We did find pretty strong evidence that there are a couple of ways that our student-athletes have and probably have at some point gotten around the test in some way,” Barta said. “That’s something that every drug testing situation, it’s almost become a cottage industry around the country, how do you beat a test.”

What is interesting about Iowa’s athletic policy is that they don’t necessarily suspend players for a first drug violation.  This begs the question that, if a player is in violation, what motivation does the University of Iowa have to tell us that a player violated with it and that it is being dealt with “internally?” They have none.

Furthermore, the fact that Barta believes that players got around the drug testing system is an intersting statement. That would seem to indicate, given that, as both he and Ferentz said at the press conference, that there were no positive tests, that they believed there WOULD be positive tests.

Why would Barta think that? Did he know who was getting high? Did one of the coaches?

There is obviously more information out there that they aren’t telling, and the press conference was very lax on details except for two points.

One, was that no further suspensions would be forthcoming, or rather, they were not anticipating making any further suspensions.

Two, and this is believable, that Jewel Hampton’s departure, Adam Robinson’s suspension and DJK’s arrest were all three separate incidents.

Robinson’s being separate makes the most sense, as he had had academic troubles (described as a “hiccup”) earlier in the season. One one have to speculate if having incurred two concussions this season might have made concentration and studying in class a diffcult thing to do. That certainly would have an effect on how most would be able to perform in their every day lives, let alone academically.

So for now, the rumors of 20 player suspensions or anything like that are quelled.

However, they are not forgotten, and since Barta and Ferentz were willing to word things so very carefully during the press conference and truly not reveal much of anything (when Barta was asked how he knew that there might have been some malfeasance on the drug tests, he angrily threw the question aside), they certainly aren’t going to go away.

The question is, will we ever find out if there is any truth to any of them.

–Paul Schmidt


  1. bryanvickroy says

    ferentz hired a “life skills coach” for the team a couple of years ago, what a joke!!! On a more legal note, connecting some dots out there for fun, say that all the team names were on a laptop or something as clientele which is what i heard. what the hell are the cops doing telling the coach about their investigation??? i’m pretty sure active evidence isn’t something that gets shard around freely, much less so a football coach can pick and choose who he wants to drug test. i see much more coming from this in the future.

  2. Well, I read Ferentz saying that the cops told him no other team members were involved as, no other team members were involved in the selling of drugs.

    Some people thought that this absolved the players entirely, but I wasn’t so sure about that….just the context made it seem like they weren’t talking about drug buys.

  3. Drug Scandal? One player is arrested, no other known arrests or positive tests, and it is a “drug scandal”?

    I guess I should applaud you for climbing down from your journalistically indefensible article from yesterday, claiming “reportedly, the Iowa Hawkeyes coaching staff will be suspending and/or revoking the scholarships of up to 20 players because of failed drug tests.”

    You seem concerned that Iowa’s policy doesn’t automatically suspend players for a first violation (they are referred to private counseling). Do you know how this compares to other schools?

  4. Many schools have a zero tolerance policy.

    And nothing we said was, again, incorrect. And I truly believe there is more to this story than Iowa is saying. It is very difficult to have heard that press conference and not thought, “Wow…this really sounds like they have something to hide.”

  5. Also Fred, they admitted that players are getting and probably have been getting around the tests. Combine that with DJK, and yeah, I would call that a drug scandal.

  6. And as for journalistically indefensible, I will do that right now. Every newspaper and television station in Iowa and Missouri was reporting the exact same thing — though some were saying 11 players, not 20. Vegas pulled the game off the books, which they wouldn’t have done unless something big was coming.

    You will have a hard time convincing me that there aren’t several players that failed tests, or that they KNOW passed tests That shouldn’t have, and that are currently receiving “counselling” and that we aren’t being told about.

  7. Fred, don’t you understand the news cycle at all? it’s clear that this story is just in its nascent stages. We’re likely going to learn a lot more about what really went on later. So I suggest you wait and see what comes out before passing judgment.

    we didn’t jump to any certain conclusions, i advise you do the same

  8. Four replies to one post. Someone sounds defensive.

    “Nothing we said was, again, incorrect”. Wrong. You said “Reportedly, the Iowa Hawkeyes coaching staff will be suspending and/or revoking the scholarships of up to 20 players because of failed drug tests. That was obviously incorrect. You said “police recovered a laptop from DJK’s drug house that had a customer list, and this customer list led to the athletic department mandating drug tests.” Also incorrect, unless AD Gary Barta lied in the presser. Iowa tests every week (800-900 test per year) and Barta said “nothing out of the ordinary” was done last week.

    Iowa did say they think players may have circumvented testing. The money quote: “unfortunately we learned there’s enough evidence in our protocol to say that we have to tighten up, that it’s pretty likely that someone, and I don’t know if it’s 1 or if it’s 21, but someone has gotten around this process.” Concerning, yes; scandal, no, not based on the objective facts so far.

    Finally, you claim “many schools have a zero tolerance policy”. Name them. The NCAA mandates a 1-yr suspension for performance-enhancers, and most schools mandate suspension for hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, but I’d like you to link to a major school that automatically suspends for all drugs. Iowa doesn’t, Illinois doesn’t, Nebraska doesn’t, Iowa State, Penn State, Ohio State… The majority if not all BCS schools mandate counseling on 1st offense for drugs like marijuana and barbituates, with no public disclosure.

    Meaning Iowa, contrary to your implication, is not lax on its punishment protocol relative to peers.

    Certainly it’s possible more could come. Just as we might learn the entire Illini team failed their tests, or that you’re a convicted felon. My problem is you went well beyond the objective facts, and laid out an overreaching headline more worthy of Gawker than a journalist. “Everybody else did it” is weak sauce as a defense.

  9. I like Fred.

  10. The Who Wat Guy says


    Why are you cutting him off? You clearly got put in your place by Fred. If you can’t take critical comments, don’t be a public figure. It comes with your “job.”

  11. Just because the state newspapers printed the stories doesn’t make them journalistically defensible. It just means that they are just as guilty of publishing trash.

    They didn’t say that many players were getting around the testing. They said that they suspected one player of getting around it. And if one can get around it, they all can. Doesn’t automatically mean that they have been, just that they can (which warrants a revamping of the testing program).

    Many schools have “zero-tolerance” policies? When you can find me a top-level athletic department that does that, I’ll admit to selling drugs to the players. NOBODY who’s in the business of competing for championships takes an automatic “zero-tolerance” policy in regards to drugs. And given how much bitching has gone on about how conservative, predictable, outdated, etc. our schemes are (which led to a 7-5 season), this seems an odd stance to take. You really can’t have both, especially at Iowa.

    One suspension is not a drug scandal within the program. It’s a drug scandal for one player.

  12. and I didn’t even write this piece anyway, but I’m defending it simply because it’s on my site. Not once did we ever say that these rumors were anything more than rumors. Everything unconfirmed was prefaced with a disclaimer “Iowa University has not confirmed this” but apparently you guys didn’t read the whole piece, just portions

  13. And taking shots at the people who disagree with you, insult you and your ability as a journalist? That’s not very professional. Plenty of people are going to think you’re an idiot for what you write over the course of a career (I fully expect it when I graduate and begin mine). You take it in stride, because there will always be people who think you have no clue about what you’re talking about.

  14. Got to agree with Fred. He won the debate by a knockout. Discussions should be evidence-driven, not ego-driven Paul.

  15. it’s all good. I’m opening back up comments on the original post on my site now. just had to have a brief consultation with some business people first. Go nuts….have at it….

  16. Who wrote this story? Why isn’t there a name attached to it? Why do stories often have the owner of the site name calling people who don’t agree with him?

  17. I’ve gotten so many hate comments and hate mail from you Iowa people today, I don’t have the time to individually respond to them.

    So I’ll just say this: as a Chicagoan, as someone who covers Northwestern regularly, with friends and family within the NU community- GO CATS!

    Everytime the purple and white crush your dreams it makes me smile and laugh

  18. Classy post, Paul. You must have really thick skin.

    Oh, and by the way, Iowa never scheduled a press conference for 4:20 and then realized the error of their ways. That was an obvious joke posted on the message boards that you clearly ripped off and presented as fact. Nice journalism. The New Yorker must be banging on your door right now.

  19. Fred owns you and the best you can do in response is a feeble “I’m from Chicago so Go Cats?? Lame, very very lame. And laughable.


    Notice two of the five links in the midst of the page. Fox Sports stands behind our content.

    And I think their opinion is slightly more important than yours……

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