Washington suspends Jimmy Lake for 1 game without pay

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Washington coach Jimmy Lake was suspended for one game without pay following a sideline incident during the Huskies’ game against Oregon.

Lake is suspended from all team activities for the week and will return to his coaching responsibilities Sunday. Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will serve as the interim coach for Saturday’s game against Arizona State.

Lake appeared to thrust his right arm toward and then shove Ruperake Fuavai during a brief skirmish on the Washington sideline in Saturday’s 26-16 loss to Oregon. Fuavai appeared to be exchanging words with Oregon’s Jaylon Redd just before the incident with Lake.

“Our staff has spent the last 24-plus hours reviewing video of the incident, as well as speaking with coach Lake, the involved student-athlete and several other student-athletes and members of the staff, and I have made the decision to suspend Coach Lake for next Saturday’s game against Arizona State,” Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement.

Cohen added that she does not believe Lake’s actions were intentional, but “we can have no tolerance for a coach interacting with a student in the manner coach Lake did.”

“We have high expectations of conduct for our coaches, and we will not shy away from those expectations,” Cohen said.

Lake said after Saturday’s game that he did not hit Fuavai and was trying to get him away from Redd before it could become a penalty.

“I separated him. I did not strike him. I separated him,” Lake said.

Lake posted an apology to Fuavai, his team and the school’s administration on social media late Monday afternoon.

“I fully accept the decision that was made. Our team has a right to expect better than what I displayed on Saturday, and I’m committed to doing just that – being better so our program will reflect all that’s good about being a Washington Husky,” Lake said.

The suspension capped arguably the lowest week of Lake’s tenure, and the discontent among fans and alumni is rapidly growing. Lake started last week by taking a verbal shot at the academics of Oregon when talking about recruiting. Then came the sideline incident and another lackluster offensive performance as the Huskies lost to the Ducks at home for the seventh time in the past eight meetings.

Gregory, in his eighth season on the Washington staff, said he did not find out about the incident with Lake and Fuavai until he got home after the game and received a text message. Gregory said that Cohen addressed the team about the decision to suspend Lake.

“This is a great challenge for all of us. It’s a great challenge for myself … all of our coaches, great challenge for our players,” Gregory said. “But this is what it’s all about. If it was all good right here, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here. But these are the times that we can teach great lessons to young men and we’re all looking forward to it.”

A day before the suspension was announced, Lake fired offensive coordinator John Donovan. The Huskies rank in the bottom third nationally in most offensive categories, including 109th in scoring offense and 112th in total offense.

Wide receivers coach Junior Adams will replace Donovan as Washington’s play caller for the rest of the season. Adams indicated he’s open to all options stepping into the role, including the idea of a change at quarterback where sophomore Dylan Morris has struggled.

“We’re going through (the) game plan right now, and we’re going to see where we’re at with that,” Adams said. “But Dylan, we’re gonna put him in the best position that he can be in for him to be successful.”

Washington (4-5) must win two of its final three games to become bowl eligible.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.