In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, University of Massachusetts athletic director Ryan Bamford spoke publicly for the time since announcing a one-game suspension for football coach Mark Whipple, who compared an official’s call to “rape” following last Saturday’s loss at Ohio University.
Bamford said he recognized Whipple’s “error in judgment” but backed him as the head coach moving forward.
“I’ve had a lot of good, thoughtful conversation with campus leadership,” Bamford said. “I think it’s an isolated incident. When Coach Whipple gets reinstated, he’ll be the leader of our program.”
In addition to the one-game suspension without pay, Bamford said he is working with UMass human resources officials to set up one-on-one workshops with Whipple to ensure that no further incidents occur.
Defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham will be acting head coach for Saturday’s home matchup with South Florida.
After last Saturday’s 58-42 loss, Whipple was asked about a pass interference call.
“We had a chance there with 16 down and they rape us, and he picks up the flag,” Whipple said.
Bamford said he was near Whipple when the comment was made but did not hear it.
“That’s not a word I would use to describe anything about a football game,” Bamford said.
In a statement Sunday, Whipple apologized for “a lack of responsiblity,” calling his comment “unacceptable.”
Pinkham said that Whipple recognized the gravity of the situation and didn’t fight the suspension at all.
“He wasn’t bitter,” Pinkham said. “He was very reasonable.”
Matt MacCormack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.