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Nihon University president Kichibe Otsuka offers apology for dirty tackle scandal

by Sakura Murakami

Staff Writer

Kichibe Otsuka, president of Nihon University, addressed reporters at a news conference held in Tokyo on Friday, saying that he felt “responsibility” regarding Nihon University’s handling of the dirty tackle scandal, and that he “couldn’t apologize enough” to the victim.

The news conference was held amid mounting media criticism against Nihon University for its delay in addressing a late hit by one of its football players, and for holding a hastily planned and acrimonious news conference on Thursday that failed to address whether the team’s coaches had ordered the illegal action or not.

Otsuka deflected questions about whether the head coach had ordered a player to make a late tackle of the opposing team’s quarterback, saying that “an independent committee will be set up to investigate the issue,” so he couldn’t comment.

Nihon University will also be cooperating with the Japan Sports Agency investigation, Otsuka added.

The news has been garnering much attention in the media in recent days, with morning news shows analyzing Nihon University’s response to the scandal and accusing the university of handling the issue in a messy fashion.

Criticism mounted against Nihon University after a two-hour news conference held by the school’s coaches on Thursday, during which former head coach Masato Uchida, who recently stepped down from his post, and assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue claimed that the responsibility of the controversial play lay with them as coaches, but repeatedly refuted that they had ordered the tackle and wrote off the incident as a result of “miscommunication.”

An employee who works for Nihon University’s public relations office and served as emcee of the news conference, Hisakuni Yonekura, also garnered media attention for his curt handling of reporters at the conference. During the latter half of the conference he began cutting off questions asked by reporters, as well as answers by the coaches.

Nihon University defensive end Taisuke Miyagawa injured a Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback in an exhibition game played on May 6 by making a late and dangerous tackle against the signal caller.