Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer, hired by the NFL team in January, announced on Thursday that Doyle would be his director of sport performance, prompting backlash from some fans and NFL analysts.
Doyle, a longtime Hawkeyes strength coach, was placed on leave by the school last June after several former players said he contributed to a dysfunctional culture for Black players.
“At a time when the NFL has failed to solve its problem with racial hiring practices, it is simply unacceptable to welcome Chris Doyle into the ranks of NFL coaches,” said Rod Graves, the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which counts coaches and other NFL personnel among its members.
The Jaguars did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Doyle could not immediately be reached for comment.
He denied the claims in June, saying he never "crossed the line of unethical behavior or bias based on race," according to media reports here citing a statement posted to his Twitter account. The statement no longer appears on his Twitter page.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters last week that he was not satisfied with this year’s head coach hiring cycle, a year after pledging to increase diversity across the league. Just one diverse candidate was hired after the conclusion of the regular season to fill one of the head coach vacancies.
“Doyle’s departure from the University of Iowa reflected a tenure riddled with poor judgment and mistreatment of Black players,” Graves said in a written statement. “His conduct should be as disqualifying for the NFL as it was for University of Iowa.”
Meyer, who previously coached for powerhouse college programs including Ohio State and Florida, said on Thursday he feels “great” about the hire.
"I've known Chris for close to 20 years," Meyer told reporters when asked about the allegations here. "I've known him, I've studied him, we've had a relationship. I vetted him thoroughly along with our general manager and owner."
Graves said Meyer’s statement was further evidence of inequity in the NFL hiring process.
“Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years’, reflects the good ol’boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches,” said Graves. Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by William Mallard