The defending national champion Nihon University Phoenix now have only three weeks to possibly get their ban lifted in order to participate in the 2018 season, which starts Aug. 31 at Amino Vital Field in Tokyo.
The Kantoh Collegiate Football Association on Tuesday announced it set a July 17 deadline for the Phoenix to hand in their report on the illegal tackle scandal that happened against rival Kwansei Gakuin University in a May 6 game at Amino Vital Field.
“We have suspended the Phoenix for this season, but at the same time we gave them some conditions which could make the ban lifted if they meet all of them,” KCFA executive director Keiji Morimoto said. “But the season is nearing, so we decided to set the deadline.”
The KCFA handed a lifetime ban to former Phoenix head coach Masato Uchida and his former assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue last month and suspended the team. For the Phoenix, however, the KCFA required them to investigate how the illegal tackle took place and hand in their report of the investigation and disclose the procedures it would follow to prevent a similar illegal play from happening again.
When the KCFA is satisfied with the report and judges that the team has developed a organizational system, the Phoenix will be allowed to return to the league.
“We need time to check their report and discuss on their return,” Morimoto explained. “We have set the date to make our final judgement for July 31. This is the reason we gave the Phoenix the deadline two weeks earlier.”
Nihon University also established a third-party committee to investigate the incident and is scheduled to disclose its report by the end of July. The KCFA said it will read the report when it’s finished, but will not wait to make its decision.
Since Uchida resigned in May, the Phoenix haven’t had a head coach and the players have not been able to hold organized team practices.
On June 19, Nihon University announced on its official website that it is hiring coaches and set a deadline for Thursday to apply. Nihon University says on the site that the new coaches should not be school alumni and is even open to non-Japanese when it is also written in English.