CHICAGO _ Kirk Ferentz's words may ring hollow to some people that have him tied to a cover-up. Those folks already have convicted the Iowa football coach in the court of public opinion. He's stereotyped as being the win-at-all-costs, big-time sports figure.
It's the easy thing to do. He makes a lot of money. He's one of the biggest celebrities - if not the biggest - in Iowa. He's an easy target. As a society, we gawk at the king of the mountain being knocked off of it.
Ferentz defended himself for the first time publicly here on Thursday since being accused of wrong doing in an alleged sexual assualt case involving two former Hawkeye players. The mother of the alleged victim levied the charge.
Speaking from a note cards, Ferentz furrowed his brow and spoke out against those who questioned his actions.
"I do take exception in reading the second paragraph of a pretty prominent article this past weekend there was a suggestion made of a cover-up," he said. "I know that's the media's job and that the world we live in right now. I really take great exception to that.
"If a logical person looked at this for anybody to be involved in a cover-up here, basically you'd have to be morally bankrupt and secondly you'd have to be fairly ignorant. I guess you could be morally bankrupt and still be smart enough not to even think about that.
"You can make your judgment on me. You can question my ability to coach. You can question the decisions I choose to make. You can question a lot of things. But to question character, I do take exception to that. I don't mind telling you that."
The letter suggested that Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta were among the University of Iowa officials that encouraged the alleged victim to follow a informal process instead of taking the case to the police, which eventually happened. A court case is now pending against Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield. Ferentz has been named as a potential witness in the case.
As Barta stated on Tuesday, Ferentz said that he was requested to attend the meeting by the alleged victim's parents. The coach requested not to be in the meeting, but agreed to take part in it as in accordance with the university's informal process policy.
"That meeting was covered in the first investigation by the board of regents," Ferentz said. "It will be covered again. All of us are very, very confident that the outcome will be positive one more time. The best interest of the young lady were first and foremost and that's consistent with that meeting."
The regents decided to reopen an invetsigation on how the university handled the case after learning last weekend about the mother's letter to President Sally Mason. That letter and a second one were not turned over to the board during the first investigation.
Ferentz said that he learned of the alleged crime on Monday morning, Oct. 15, two days after it allegedly happened. The meeting with the alleged victim and her family took place on Wednesday and the players were off the team on Thursday. The coach conducted his own investigation during that week and concluded that Everson and Satterfield would no longer be with the program. Their last activity with the team was on Sunday.
One of the other main questions that arose from the letter was Ferentz's decision to send two players back into the room where the alleged crime occurred. Darrell Johnson-Koulianos and Lance Tillison previously had vacated the room and were told to return to it.
When asked if he thought about that room being a potential crime scene, Ferentz said:
"Obviously my mind doesn't work that way. It was news to me that the room was vacant. That's one thing that I learned during the course of that week. The first step there was to get those people back in the proper spots."
If anything, Ferentz is guilty of poor judgment in that decision. But perhaps somebody else should have made that decision for him in closing off that room because it was a potential crime scene.
Overall, the coach handled everything well here on Thursday. He's been viewed as a man of high character throughout his nine years as the head man at Iowa and his words seemed genuine and heart-felt.
"As of the 17th (of October), that was my last involvement, the meeting with the formal procedure," he said. "I only acted on the things that a football coach could act on. I acted on what I had. I acted fairly."