Idaho State Bengals Football Program Mired In Controversy
In Pocatello, Idaho, the Idaho State Bengals are members of the Big Sky Conference at the FCS level for college football. Recently, however, the focus has been on anything but football as the program finds itself in the middle of a scandal.
On October 3, wide receiver Derek Graves says that head coach Mike Kramer pushed him to the ground during a practice which resulted in an injury for Graves. The senior hasn’t been cleared to practice since due to a neck injury that he suffered in the incident, according to Graves.
According to the wide receiver, the coach became irate when Graves preferred to face off against a veteran cornerback in practice rather than a freshman during one-on-one drills in practice. When Graves tried to wave over one of the older corners to face him, Kramer ran across the field and said, “He’s a varsity f—ing player” before pushing Graves to the ground. According to the receiver, the coach cursed again while he was on the ground.
The school investigated the incident after video of the altercation was obtained by “Outside The Lines,” and suspended Kramer for the team’s game against the Montana Grizzlies last Saturday. The Pocatello Police Department is also investigating after Graves filed a police report following the incident and retained Alabama attorney Don Jackson to represent him.
Now, the story has taken another twist as Graves has been suspended indefinitely by Kramer. The coach informed Graves of his suspension via a letter that contained one paragraph that explained he was being suspended for repeatedly being late to practice. The letter said that Graves had been warned about being late and referred to two specific practices, those on October 31 and November 1.
Graves says that he was never warned about tardiness and that “was also never informed of what time I had to be at practice since I have been out.” He went on to admit he showed up to practice on Wednesday (October 31) about five minutes after the practice had started, but denies that he was late on Thursday. He assumes his suspension is part of a personal vendetta by Coach Kramer, saying “He’s acting differently toward me since the incident.”
Graves’ attorney agrees and says that he believes the suspension is retaliation for his client’s refusal to drop the criminal case against Kramer. Jackson has accused Idaho State of having “a tolerance for the physical abuse of student athletes,” and says this investigation strongly indicates a lack of institutional control that he will be elevating to the attention of the NCAA.
Officially, the school says that Graves was suspended “for a violation of team rules,” and has given no further comment.
How this situation plays out remains to be seen. Will Kramer face criminal charges? Will Graves pursue further legal action via a civil suit? Will the NCAA come down on Idaho State for the dreaded “lack of institutional control” mentioned by Jackson? Why would Graves want to come back to the this team, especially now?
Only time will tell for sure, but tell us what you think about this situation in the comments below!