IOWA CITY, Iowa -- New Iowa assistant coach Brian Ferentz said Wednesday that he accepted a job offer from his father, contradicting a claim by the athletics director that head coach Kirk Ferentz had stepped away from the hiring process to comply with the university's nepotism policy.
At a news conference with his father, the new assistant said the two "spoke a lot" as Kirk Ferentz was filling staff vacancies in the offseason. Brian Ferentz said he jumped at the chance to leave the New England Patriots to join his father's staff and it would be special working under him.
"Once he had an idea of what he wanted to do, he reached out to me," said Brian Ferentz, 28. "It was a no-brainer. You can't say no to your father. And for me personally it was hard to say no to Iowa."
The comments came shortly after Iowa released a document saying Kirk Ferentz did not participate in the interview process that led to his son's hiring and would not evaluate his performance or set his salary. The document outlined a plan by athletics director Gary Barta to manage the conflict of interest between Brian Ferentz and his father, which is required under a school policy meant to ban nepotism in employment decisions. Barta took credit for the decision to recruit and hire the younger Ferentz, and said he would be his supervisor going forward.
The school announced last month that it hired Brian Ferentz to coach the Hawkeyes offensive line. Brian Ferentz played for Iowa from 2002-05 and spent the last four years with the Patriots, serving as tight ends coach last season.
"I was very interested in pursuing Brian Ferentz to become a member of our football staff due to his strong experience and success in the professional coaching ranks," Barta wrote in a Feb. 17 memo to Sue Buckley, Iowa's vice president for human resources. "I worked through UI policies and procedures and we were subsequently able to convince Brian to apply."
Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday that Patriots coach Bill Belichick wasn't upset at him for recruiting his son because "Bill's dad was a coach, so I think he fully understood the whole dynamics of the situation." Ferentz said it was important for Brian Ferentz's coaching aspirations that he left Iowa's program and learned from others, revealing he rejected his son's application for a graduate assistant job a few years ago.
While qualified for the job, it was not clear until Wednesday how Brian Ferentz's hiring complied with a university policy that says hiring involving blood relatives "should be avoided where possible, and otherwise disclosed and managed" to ensure employees are treated fairly.
The policy says any hiring that moves forward despite a conflict must have a "sound institutional reason" and a management plan in which the relative with decision-making power is removed from decisions affecting the other's employment.
Such plans are considered personnel records that are not subject to Iowa's open records law, but Kirk and Brian Ferentz agreed to release the plan after The Associated Press requested it, university records custodian Steve Parrott said.
School spokesman Tom Moore said a university committee that manages conflicts of interest approved Barta's management plan. Brian Ferentz's hiring was done "by the book," and the management plan will be successful, committee co-chair Tom Rice said through Moore.
The offensive line position came open after Kirk Ferentz reassigned longtime coach Reese Morgan to the defensive line to replace Rick Kaczenski, who left for a similar job at Nebraska. Ferentz said last month he believed Morgan was needed to develop an inexperienced group of defensive linemen but acknowledged Morgan "was a little surprised."
"But I guess I've got some executive privilege. I exercised it," Ferentz said. Asked whether Brian Ferentz would join his staff, he said he open to "anybody that's out there that has a chance to really help our football team" but his son had a good job.
"I'm really confident we're going to get a good guy or we wouldn't have moved Reese," he added.
Two weeks later, the school announced Brian Ferentz's hiring.
In the memo, Barta said Brian Ferentz's application was approved for the interview pool. Barta said he interviewed four applicants and Kirk Ferentz "purposely did not participate" in that process.
Barta said he was able to supervise and evaluate Brian Ferentz since he attends games and practices.
Ferentz, beginning his 14th year as head coach, has not shied away from involving his family in the program. One of his other sons, junior James Ferentz, is the starting center. Another, Steve Ferentz, is expected to walk on as a freshman this year.