/

Independent committee rules Nihon University President Hidetoshi Tanaka ultimately responsible for illegal tackle scandal

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

The third-party committee appointed to investigate the Nihon University American football team’s illegal tackle scandal concluded Monday that school president Hidetoshi Tanaka was responsible for the lack of governance and must take accountability for the scandal.

But whether Tanaka will actually address the media and explain the issue or apologize remains questionable.

“Our job is to investigate the facts and reasons and propose improvement plans,” said Mitsuhiro Katsumaru, the chairman of the committee, during Monday’s news conference. “But deciding the punishment of the people involved or how Tanaka can take accountability is beyond our authority.

“It is very important to keep monitoring how Nihon University responds to our proposals and whether it acts on them, but the third-party committee does not have that function,” Katsumasu continued. “Nihon University promised to respect our investigation and proposals. We would like to believe their words.”

After a two-month investigation, the third-party committee compiled a 45-page final report and submitted it to the school on Monday morning.

In the report, the committee decided that a Nihon University defensive end made an illegal tackle on a Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback during the May 6 exhibition game because he was ordered to do so by former head coach Masato Uchida and former assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue, both of whom were fired from the school on Monday.

The report also said that Uchida had ruled the team with an iron fist because he had substantial power at the school. The atmosphere surrounding the team meant nobody could go against Uchida, who sometimes used violence against players and coaches, or even forced coaches to punch players.

Such actions were made possible by the school’s lack of governance, with Tanaka responsible for supervising the school, the report said.

The committee proposed establishing a new organization to supervise not only the American football team but all of the school’s sports clubs, and also monitor the school’s governance.

The committee also required Tanaka to apologize and vow that the school will reestablish a student-first attitude in the conclusion of the report.

The Phoenix, the Nihon University American football team, have been suspended since May for this fall season by the Kantoh Collegiate Football Association.

The suspension can be lifted if the team meets some conditions set by the KCFA. Submitting the report on how the illegal tackle was made and the improvement plan was one of them.

If the KCFA decides through reading the report, which was submitted on July 17, that the school has genuinely reflected on the incident and intends to make an effort to improve, the defending collegiate champion Phoenix will be allowed to join the Kantoh Collegiate League that starts Sept. 1. The KCFA will announce its decision Tuesday night.