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American football: University to fire ex-coaches over player's dirty tackle

July 30, 2018 press conference by a Nihon University third-party panel set up to look into a dangerous late tackle by a player of the university's American football team (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A university in Tokyo decided Monday it will dismiss two former coaches of its American football team over a dangerous late tackle by one of its players during an intercollegiate game in May that injured an opposing player.

Hidetoshi Tanaka, board chairman of Nihon University. (Mainichi)

Nihon University's decision comes after the governing body of college football and a university third-party panel found the two former coaches -- head coach Masato Uchida and assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue -- responsible for ordering the foul play.

They received a lifetime ban from competition in June over the May 6 incident, in which a linebacker on the university's team injured the quarterback of archrival Kwansei Gakuin University.

The third-party panel of seven lawyers appointed by Nihon University to investigate the incident said at a press conference Monday that the coaches had been giving instructions to players in a way that imposed a heavy burden on its players, possibly a form of power harassment.

The panel, headed by a former senior public prosecutor, also released its final investigation report Monday, criticizing the way the incident was handled by the university's chairman, Hidetoshi Tanaka.

According to the panel, Tanaka has avoided making public appearances or statements since the incident, intensifying public criticism of the university.

The panel advised Tanaka to issue a statement of apology, and recommended establishing a group led by outside personnel to govern sport teams in the university.

The former coaches and Nihon university have denied the allegation, saying linebacker Taisuke Miyagawa misinterpreted the instructions given by the coaches.

Miyagawa made a public apology that was broadcast live across Japan. Although American football is a relatively minor sport in Japan, the incident involving two of the country's best university teams attracted nationwide attention.

Uchida had resigned as a member of the university's board of directors but remained a university employee. He was to be suspended from work for six months, the university said last month.

The quarterback for Kwansei Gakuin University injured by the foul, Kosei Okuno, has filed a criminal complaint with the police against Uchida and Inoue, while asking investigators to show leniency toward the Nihon University player.

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