The Jacksonville Jaguars announced the resignation of strength coach Chris Doyle on Friday night, not long after an organization that promotes diversity in the NFL described the recent decision to hire Doyle as “simply unacceptable.”
Doyle, whose hiring was announced by the Jaguars Thursday, left the University of Iowa football staff last year after a number of current and former Hawkeyes players declared he had promoted a culture of bullying and racism.
The Associated Press first reported a statement from Jaguar’s coach Urban Meyer that Doyle had resigned and accepted the resignation.
“Chris didn’t want to distract what we were building in Jacksonville,” Meyer said in his statement. “We are responsible for all aspects of our program and, in hindsight, should have given more consideration to how his appointment might have affected everyone involved. We wish him all the best for his career. “
Earlier on Friday, Rod Graves, executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, named after the first black head coach in the NFL, released a statement stating, “Doyle’s departure from the University of Iowa reflected a tenure that was poor Discernment was shaped and abuse of black players. His behavior should be just as disqualifying for the NFL as it is for the University of Iowa. “
Doyle, who was Iowa’s strength and conditioning coach, made a separation agreement with the university in June, finishing two decades of work there.
The Jaguars’ hiring of the white Doyle came at a time of intense scrutiny of the NFL’s hiring practices and the question of whether minority candidates for coaching jobs have equal chances of being hired.
“I’ve known Chris for almost 20 years,” Meyer said Thursday when asked if he wanted to hire someone accused of mistreating athletes, especially black players. Doyle was a strength trainer at the University of Utah in the late 1990s, a few years before Meyer was hired there as head coach.
“Urban Meyer’s statement,” I’ve known Chris for almost 20 years, “reflects the good old boys’ network, which is precisely why the job opportunities for black coaches are so varied,” said Graves in his statement.
Meyer, who won two national college championships as head coach in Florida and one in the state of Ohio, has not trained since 2018 and has not previously worked in the NFL. He officially hired Doyle as Jacksonville’s Director of Sports Performance and said the decision had been scrutinized at the highest levels of the franchise.
“We checked that very well,” Meyer told reporters on Thursday.
During a press conference last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he was not happy with the rate at which color coaches were being hired in the NFL of 32 teams.
“It wasn’t what we expected,” he said of the diversity in the recruitment round after the 2020 season, “and it’s not what we expect in the future.”
Of the seven head coaches hired since the end of the regular season, only two were not white. Last year, one in five head coaching jobs went to a minority candidate, and only one in eight the year before.
Over the past three years, 80 percent of head coach jobs went to white candidates, although color players made up 69.4 percent of the NFL this season, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.
After the Jaguars hired Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke, both white, last month, Graves praised the organization for interviewing several minority candidates and for soliciting input from the Fritz Pollard Alliance.
“I can’t say that the process wasn’t up to the standard of fair, open, and competitive,” said Graves told the Florida Times-Union.
However, Doyle’s hiring posed problems beyond the NFL’s commitment to diverse attitudes.
Before Doyle left Iowa, Emmanuel Rugamba, a former Hawkeyes attorney, gave in several examples the coach’s demeaning players with negative racist stereotypes. Rugamba said in a tweet that one day after a black player walked away from Doyle, the coach said, “Why you go with all this bragging rights I’m going to get you back on the streets.”
James Daniels, an attacking lineman for the Chicago Bears and former Hawkeye, tweeted on the summer: “There are too many racial differences in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long. “
Doyle also led an off-season training session in 2011 that resulted in the hospitalization of 13 players.