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Ex-Hawkeye Blackmails Coach

A former Iowa football player whose departure from the team was followed by his allegations of NCAA rules violations has been charged with trying to blackmail the school into giving him back his scholarship.

Ryan Loftin -- a 6-foot-5, 240-pound linebacker who started all 11 games last season but had been moved to the second team this year - was arrested and charged Saturday with felony extortion and misdemeanor fifth-degree theft.

The Des Moines Sunday Register reported that first-year coach Kirk Ferentz received a letter, signed with the name Ryan Loftin, that threatened a media smear campaign against the coach, allegations of NCAA violations and the sharing of Hawkeye secrets with opponents.

"Loftin did threaten to expose classified information that would harm the professional reputation and business of the victim," court records said. "Loftin expected to force the victim to continue to provide continued support through scholarship funds."

The theft charge involves notebooks, believed to be Iowa playbooks taken from Ferentz's office.

The 22-year-old Loftin has received his undergraduate degree but had one year of eligibility remaining. He quit the team Aug. 17 after he said he was concerned that his knee would not hold up.

Three days later, he called reporters saying he did not leave voluntarily and that Ferentz violated NCAA rules regarding off-season workouts.

Contacted at his Iowa City apartment, Loftin told the Register that he had no comment.

"There is nothing I can say," he said.

Among the threats in the letter to Ferentz:

  • Enlisting other disgruntled former players in a campaign to generate negative coverage of Ferentz and his program as well as force an NCAA investigation into the program. University officials last week said they concluded there were no violations in regard to the summer conditioning sessions.
  • Giving inside information to opponents, including Iowa's Saturday opponent, Nebraska. The letter said someone would drive "on I-80 all the way to Lincoln to share with them the information ... about defense and special teams."

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