The NCAA Division I-AA Football Committee has suspended five members of the Western Kentucky University football team and eight members of the Western Illinois University football team for their participation in an altercation that occurred after the conclusion of the 2002 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinal game in Macomb, Illinois.
In addition, seven student-athletes from Western Kentucky and six from Western Illinois received public reprimands. Also, one student-athlete was banished from further participation in any future NCAA Division I-AA championships.
Specifically, the incident began during a post-game celebration that occurred after Western Kentucky defeated Western Illinois, 31-28.
Antonio Thomas and Shawn McCrimmon of Western Kentucky and Jason McWilliams, Chris McNutt, Mike Tetzel, James Rennick, Jason Baksas and Chad Daun of Western Illinois each received a one-game suspension for striking or punching other individuals.
The suspension will prohibit the players from participating in the next championship game they would be eligible to participate in this year or in future years.
Alex Dukes, Darius McCrimmon and Montaze Trumbo of Western Kentucky and Ryle Irish and Doran Yilla of Western Illinois each received a two-game suspension for kicking a defenseless individual or striking an individual with their helmets.
The suspension will prohibit the players from participating in the next two championship games they would be eligible to participate in this year or in future years.
Cris Riviere of Western Kentucky has been banished from participation in any future NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship due to his blatant unsportsmanlike conduct.
The committee also issued a public reprimand to the following players due to the fact that their conduct, although not blatantly unsportsmanlike, contributed to the severity of the situation:
"The incident that occurred last Saturday brought disgrace to the Division I-AA Football Championship and the sport of college football," said Joe Sterrett, chair of the committee and athletics director at Lehigh University. "We felt compelled to take strong action in what we believe would be in the best interest of the championship and the sport."
The committee also reviewed the institutional responsibility that exists with the conduct of any athletic contest and particularly NCAA championship competition.
The committee was concerned that due to the number of individuals involved and the severity of the observed behaviors that there was a sufficient lack of institutional control. The committee will continue its review of this issue and reserves the authority to impose institutional sanctions at a later date.
Members of the NCAA Division I-AA Football Committee include: E.W. Dennison, Murray State University; Wayne Hogan, University of Montana; Jim Miller, University of Richmond; Gregory Burke, Northwestern State University; Joseph Sterrett, chair, Lehigh University; Roachel Laney, Appalachian State University; and Perk Weisenburger, Illinois State University.
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NCAA Football Code of Ethics
Football is an aggressive, rugged contact sport. Only the highest standards of sportsmanship and conduct are expected of players, coaches and others associated with the game. There is no place for unfair tactics, unsportsmanlike conduct or maneuvers deliberately designed to inflict injury. The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Code of Ethics states:
Through the years, the rules committee has endeavored by rule and appropriate penalty to prohibit all forms of unnecessary roughness, unfair tactics and unsportsmanlike conduct. But rules alone cannot accomplish this end. Only the continued best efforts of coaches, players, officials and all friends of the game can preserve the high ethical standards that the public has a right to expect in America’s foremost collegiate sport. Therefore, as a guide to players, coaches, officials and others responsible for the welfare of the game, the committee publishes the following code:
Talking to an Opponent
Talking to an opponent in any manner that is demeaning, vulgar, abusive or “trashy’’ or intended to incite a physical response or verbally put an opponent down is illegal. Coaches are urged to discuss this conduct frequently and support all officials’ actions to control it.
Talking to Officials
When an official imposes a penalty or makes a decision, he simply is doing his duty as he sees it. He is on the field to uphold the integrity of the game of football, and his decisions are final and conclusive and should be accepted by players and coaches. The AFCA Code of Ethics states:
Illegal use of the hand or arm is unfair play, eliminates skill and does not belong in the game. The object of the game is to advance the ball by strategy, skill and speed without illegally holding your opponent. All coaches and players should thoroughly understand the rules for proper offensive and defensive use of the hands. Holding is a frequently called penalty; it is important to emphasize the severity of the penalty.
The football player who intentionally violates a rule is guilty of unfair play and unsportsmanlike conduct; and whether or not he escapes being penalized, he brings discredit to the good name of the game, which it is his duty as a player to uphold.
Source: www.ncaa.org (The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Web site) contributed to this report.