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  • Jesse Washington

Former Iowa football player still seeking closure for racism within program

Akrum Wadley still feels the humiliation.

The Iowa football team was drafting players for the annual Hawkeye Challenge, an intrasquad competition intended to reinforce the program’s culture of accountability. When the offseason began each January, players could earn points for things like good grades, strength and conditioning performance or volunteer work. They also could lose points for bad grades, missing target weights or lateness. At the end of each summer, when the offseason was over, the team with the most points won perks like skipping to the front of the meal line for the rest of the year.

Entering the draft, each player was assigned a point value based on coaches’ evaluations of their behavior during the first few weeks of the offseason. The squad gathered in a circle as the captains, who like the team itself were predominantly white, began to choose their guys. The pool of players dwindled until only Black players with negative point values were left in the middle.

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