Sports

Idaho football coach Petrino denies being restrained in confrontation with reporter

Idaho football coach Paul Petrino, standing alongside Athletic Director Rob Spear, said Thursday afternoon that he reacted poorly and used unprofessional tone, but did not have to be restrained during an exchange with Michael-Shawn Dugar of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Dugar posted a blog Thursday morning in which he said Petrino needed to be restrained while shouting at him during Wednesday’s practice because of a recent story.

Dugar published a story about Idaho’s passing attack being a work in progress, and Petrino asked him at practice if there were enough deep passes. “Petrino wasn’t just sarcastic; he was very much upset. He went on to immediately ban the media from (Thursday’s) practice, yelling, ‘If all you’re going to write is negative (expletive) then none of you need to be here!’ ”

Dugar also said Petrino soon after confronted him and another reporter outside the practice field. Petrino “began to scream in my face, loudly informing us how many deep balls the team completed Wednesday. He then went on to chide us for our inaccurate criticisms of quarterback Matt Linehan and our lack of football knowledge, walking away saying, ‘You don’t even know what the (expletive) you’re talking about! Do your (expletive) job!’ ”

Next, Petrino “turned back and started to move toward me, still angrily shouting expletives about my writing and my professionalism while being physically restrained by one of his assistants, approaching me as if he had plans to do something other than verbally express his concerns,” Dugar wrote.

Petrino and Spear issued statements in a teleconference.

In part, Petrino’s read: “This is not an accurate account of what happened after yesterday’s practice. I did not approach the reporter nor did I at any time threaten the reporter physically or verbally.”

He added: “Yesterday I reacted poorly to what I believed to be unfair criticism directed at our players and our program. I allowed my passion for the program and our players to spill over into a conversation with Mr. Dugar in which I used an unprofessional tone. I apologize for my language and, looking back, I wish that I had handled it differently.”

Said Spear: “I witnessed Coach Petrino’s verbal exchange with several reporters from a distance. I spoke with two UI athletic department officials who were in the immediate vicinity of the exchange between Coach and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reporter. I want to make it very clear that at no point was Coach Petrino restrained. We’re taking this opportunity to set the record straight. Coach Petrino and I have visited about constructive ways to interact with media in the future and I am confident he will do so.”

Dugar later tweeted: “I will say this about those statements today: I stand by every word of my column. It’s 100% accurate. There will be no retraction/apology.’’

Practices are scheduled to be re-opened Friday.

FULL STATEMENT FROM ROB SPEAR

Following Wednesday’s football practice, I witnessed Coach Petrino’s verbal exchange with several reporters from a distance.

I spoke with two UI athletic department officials who were in the immediate vicinity of the exchange between Coach and the Moscow Pullman Daily News reporter. I want to make it very clear that at no point was Coach Petrino restrained.

We’re taking this opportunity to set the record straight. Coach Petrino and I have visited about constructive ways to interact with media in the future and I am confident he will do so.

FULL STATEMENT FROM PAUL PETRINO

Today the Moscow-Pullman Daily News published an article stating that I had to be “physically restrained” from one of their reporters, and insinuated that I intended to physically harm him. This is not an accurate account of what happened after yesterday’s practice. I did not approach the reporter nor did I at any time threaten the reporter physically or verbally.

I am a passionate person, as a husband, father and coach – I will not apologize for that. I believe in our players, staff and the program we are building at the University of Idaho.

Our players and coaches have put an incredible amount of blood, sweat and tears into turning this football program around. I am proud of them and firmly believe we are on the verge of accomplishing great things.

Yesterday I reacted poorly to what I believed to be unfair criticism directed at our players and our program. I allowed my passion for the program and our players to spill over into a conversation with Mr. Dugar in which I used an unprofessional tone. I apologize for my language and looking back, I wish that I had handled it differently.

But, again, let me be clear: I never threatened Mr. Dugar and I was never physically restrained from approaching him; any other characterization of the events yesterday is simply not true.

I will continue to give everything I have to building a successful football program here in Moscow. With the support of our players, staff, administration and fans, we will make that happen.

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