Idaho State football coach Mike Kramer cannot coach this weekends game against Northern Colorado.
The school must discipline Kramer for pushing wide receiver Derek Graves during practice Oct. 3 and that punishment must include at least a one-game ban from the sidelines and, perhaps, much more.
The incident is under investigation by the university and the Pocatello Police Department. Graves appeared on ESPNs Outside the Lines on Wednesday and provided video, which shows Kramer running at least 20 yards to get face-to-face with Graves and shoving the senior with both hands.
Kramer walks over Graves while he is on the ground and appears to yell at him while he is on the turf. Graves quickly gets back on his feet. Graves told ESPN that Kramer apologized to him after practice and did the same to the entire team the next day.
But that wasnt enough for Graves, who had 36 catches for 306 yards and one touchdown in the first four games but has not played since the incident.
Graves family contacted Alabama-based attorney Don Jackson, who has extensive experience with NCAA-related cases. Jackson said he contacted Idaho States athletic director and president on Oct. 9 and received no response. At that point, Graves filed a police report.
Athletic programs sometimes do not do a good job of regulating themselves, Jackson said. This may be one of those situations.
Graves told ESPN he has experienced neck pain since the incident. Jackson said Graves has not been cleared by doctors to practice or play and has experienced numbness in his fingers and back spasms.
Graves said he would like to rejoin the team as soon as he is cleared.
I would like for the police department and a local prosecutor to make the determination on the facts of this case. If they dont believe (charges are warranted), well be comfortable with that, Jackson said. But then youve got to explain to the next student that is shoved in the chest by another student how that situation is different than this one.
Jackson said it is way premature to discuss a potential civil lawsuit against Kramer or Idaho State.
Graves has been criticized by some for going to the police for a football-related incident, for falling down so easily, for complaining about injuries from a push when he plays football and absorbs bigger hits routinely, and for hiring an attorney and potentially filing a lawsuit.
Such criticism misses the point.
Kramer is in the wrong. He is a football coach, and coaches cannot and should not put their hands on players the way he did. It is one thing to demonstrate technique. It is one thing to yell at a player in an isolated incident.
Kramer, in his second year at Idaho State after successful but controversial stints at Eastern Washington and Montana State, crossed the line of legitimate reaction with his behavior.
It is not the first time he has been accused of physically assaulting a player. In 1995, when Kramer was the head coach at Eastern Washington, a player accused Kramer of slapping him. The incident was investigated and no chargers were brought against Kramer.
He was fired at Montana State in 2007 after a series of high-profile arrests involving players with ties to the football program.
We dont have Kramers side of the story, although the video does not leave much room for interpretation. He clearly pushed Graves.
Kramer, Athletic Director Jeff Tingey and President Art Vailas were not available for comment Wednesday. The school instead issued a statement saying the matter is under investigation.
We are still in the midst of conducting a thorough investigation. Idaho State University takes this matter very seriously and owes it to all parties involved and our constituents to thoroughly investigate the situation in a fair and balanced manner.
Idaho State should keep Kramer from coaching until the investigation is complete.