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Nihon Univ. players' parents blast school's handling of dirty tackle scandal in meeting

Kwansei Gakuin University American football team quarterback Kosei Okuno throws a pass during the fourth quarter of his return game in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on May 27, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The parents of players on Nihon University (Nichidai)'s American football team criticized the school's handling of a dirty tackle incident against a rival team's quarterback that drew national attention at a meeting here on May 27.

The head of Nichidai's American football club, Naoto Kato, and others explained the situation and apologized for the scandal following the incident. The information conveyed to the parents was the content of the university's May 24 reply to Kwansei Gakuin University, whose quarterback was tackled late and injured by a Nichidai linebacker during a May 6 game between the schools. However, there was a strong pushback from parents questioning the transparency of Nichidai's account of the events, as well as criticism of the extremely delayed handling of the situation.

Roughly 135 parents of Nichidai's American football team players gathered for the meeting. Along with club head Kato, head coach Taku Mori was also present. University officials apologized for the intense criticism that the school faced over its tardy response to the dangerous tackle by 20-year-old junior Taisuke Miyagawa. However, there was no mention if there had been any orders by either former head coach Masato Uchida, 62, or former coach Tsutomu Inoue, 29, to carry out the rough play.

According to attendees, the parents present called for the university to "protect Miyagawa" and to "do something about Nichidai's reputation," along with other requests.

The university also told parents about new guidance policies, such as measures to ensure better communication between coaches and players. At a press conference on May 25, Nihon University President Kichibee Otsuka denied that the football club would go on indefinite hiatus and said that officials would "first like to listen to the feelings of the students," but there was no mention of when practice might kick off again at the parents' meeting.

Nichidai suggested it would establish a third-party committee to investigate the incident, and one dissatisfied parent said, "It looks like they are still waiting on a conclusion."

It was also disclosed at the gathering that team members would be releasing a statement within the next few days.

(Japanese original by Yuta Kobayashi and Kazuhiro Tahara, Sports News Department)

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