Nihon University coaches ordered one of its players to make an illegal tackle during an exhibition game against Kwansei Gakuin University on May 6 in Tokyo, according to the Kanto Collegiate Football Association.
The KCFA announced its ruling on the matter during a Tuesday news conference.
Former Nihon University Phoenix head coach Masato Uchida and his assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue, who allegedly played a major role in causing the illegal tackle delivered to Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback Kosei Okuno by Nihon defensive end Taisuke Miyagawa on May 6, will be banned for life from college football in the Kanto region, the KCFA also announced at the news conference in Tokyo.
“We gave the harshest punishment to the coaches because we decided they forced the player to make the illegal tackle,” said Keiji Morimoto, the chairman of the discipline committee. “We had the hearings from about 20 people, including players and coaches from both schools, officials and witnesses of the game. We also obtained videos and voices to investigate.”
The KCFA also suspended Miyagawa and the Phoenix for the 2018 season.
It is not necessarily the end of the season for Miyagawa and the Phoenix, however. For Miyagawa, the suspension could end after he hands in a letter of apology to the KCFA and has another meeting with the discipline committee to confirm that he never makes dangerous plays again. It is up to the KCFA to decided if these conditions have been met.
The Phoenix also could be reinstated before the season starts in August if they adhere to conditions required by the KCFA. The Phoenix are ordered to report how a series of fouls occurred in the May 6 game and how the Phoenix will prevent that from happening again. The Phoenix’s report must be verified by a verification committee, which the KCFA will set up.
If the KCFA confirms that the Phoenix have met the conditions set forth by at the KCFA board member meeting, then they will qualify to play in the Top 8 this season.
Also, Taku Mori, Nihon University’s top assistant coach, was disqualified from his position, it was announced.
Miyagawa said he was ordered to hurt Okuno on the first play of the game during a May 22 news conference, but Uchida and Inoue denied that had happened the next day.
The KCFA listened to the report of the discipline committee, which held hearings for the players and coaches involved.
Also on Tuesday, Nihon University players announced their statement, citing an apology to Okuno and his family and vowing to change the team’s culture and earn the public’s trust again.
It was expected the statement would unveil the testimony that Uchida and Inoue ordered the play, but the players failed to say that clearly, only mentioning “we relied on coaches and believed what they told us without any doubt.”