UMass coach Mark Whipple suspended for one game for postgame comments

  • UMass head football coach Mark Whipple watches the first day of practice on July 29 in Amherst. UMass suspended Whipple for one week without pay following his postgame comments Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2018 8:14:54 PM

UMass suspended football coach Mark Whipple one week without pay for comments he made in a radio interview following the Minutemen’s 58-42 loss to Ohio on Saturday.

According to a transcript of the incident from the Athens Messenger, Whipple was asked during his postgame radio interview with WHYN-560 AM about the officials picking up a flag and deciding against calling pass interference against Ohio in the middle of the fourth quarter. The penalty would have negated a Bobcats interception and given UMass a first down in Ohio territory trailing by 13 points.

In his response, the veteran coach said, “We had a chance there with 16 down and they rape us, and he picks up the flag,” referencing the manner in which the Bobcats defense interfered with senior wide receiver Andy Isabella on the play. The comment was omitted from the postgame quotes distributed to the press, which were nearly identical to the transcript from the Messenger.

“I am deeply sorry for the word I used on Saturday to describe a play in our game,” Whipple said in a statement released by UMass Sunday night. “It is unacceptable to make use of the word ‘rape’ in the way I did and I am very sorry for doing so. It represents a lack of responsibility on my part as the leader of this program and a member of this university’s community, and I am disappointed with myself that I made this comparison when commenting after our game.”

The Minutemen, who dropped to 2-4 on the year with the loss to Ohio, will be without Whipple for their upcoming game with South Florida at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Whipple, who is in his 11th year at UMass over two stints as coach, will also receive mandatory sensitivity training provided by the university.

Defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham will be the acting head coach this week and Whipple will resume his coaching duties after the contest.

“On behalf of our department, I deeply apologize for the comments made by head coach Mark Whipple on Saturday after our game at Ohio,” UMass athletics director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “His reference to rape was highly inappropriate, insensitive and inexcusable under any circumstance. Coach Whipple’s comments don’t reflect the values of this institution, our athletics department or football program. Mark is disappointed in himself and understands his serious error in judgment.”

Prior to Saturday’s game against Ohio, UMass announced it would not hold any media availability this week with coaches or players. However, following the announcement of Whipple’s suspension Bamford tweeted that UMass will hold media availability this week with Bamford and Pinkham.

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