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Kwansei Gakuin unmoved by Nihon Univ. apology

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

The Kwansei Gakuin University football team believes the dirty tackle at the heart of an ongoing scandal was ordered by Nihon University’s coaches, and has decided to cancel its traditional exhibition game against Nihon University indefinitely, the Hyogo Prefecture-based school announced Saturday.

Nihon University defensive end Taisuke Miyagawa delivered an illegal hit on Kwansei Gakuin’s quarterback on the first play of a May 6 game, injuring him in the process. Saturday’s news conference was attended by Yasutoshi Okuno, the father of the injured quarterback.

Kwansei Gakuin was not satisfied by a second explanation from Nihon University on Thursday, saying it was no different from the first one which denied the dirty play was ordered by the coaches.

“Their reply has a lot of unnatural things and very little information, which makes it difficult to believe that what they (former head coach Masato Uchida and former assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue) said is the truth. We do not regard it as a sincere reply,” Kwansei Gakuin Fighters director Hiromu Ono said. “We will put our annual spring exhibition game on hold until our players’ safety is guaranteed.”

Miyagawa held a news conference on Tuesday and said he made the tackle under coaches’ orders.

“We met (Miyagawa) when he came to us to apologize and saw him speak in the news conference (on Tuesday). Both times he spoke in his own words, and what he said was very logical,” Kwansei Gakuin head coach Hideaki Toriuchi said. “I think he spoke the truth.”

The Fighters said that some questions remained unclear, such as the reason why Inoue did not bring Miyagawa off right after the tackle, which drew a 15-yard penalty.

They also said that they doubt the Phoenix’s explanation that Miyagawa was under pressure before the game and overreacted to being urged to “crush” the quarterback, which the coaches claimed was intended to make him play aggressively.

The Fighters implied that a lawsuit is possible, while the Kanto Collegiate Football Association disciplinary committee has launched an investigation into the incident. The group’s coaches association has asked KCFA to establish a third-party committee to ensure a fair investigation.

“There is a limit on the investigations by the disciplinary committee and the third-party committee,” Ono said. “Now we should hand this matter over to the investigating authority.”