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Nihon U. board chairman posts apology for dirty tackle on school website

Nihon University Chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Nihon University Chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka apologized for the first time over a scandal involving a dirty tackle in May by a player on the school's American football team in a statement uploaded to the university's official website on Aug. 3.

In the statement, the 71-year-old top official of Nihon University (Nichidai) said of the tackle that grew into a society-wide issue, "I sincerely accept the uneasiness and trouble that it has caused for many people."

Tanaka began by revealing that the sentence, "Nichidai has lost the spirit of putting students first," which appeared in the final report issued by a third-party committee set up by the school to investigate the foul play, had "pierced (his) heart." He went on to state, "I am deeply reflecting (on the report), and vow to return to the ideology of putting students first in my continued operation of the university. I would like professors and other educational staff to accept my resolve and act accordingly," hinting that he is not considering resigning from his position. Additionally, of the third-party committee's recognition that the tackle was ordered by former head coach Masato Uchida and other football club coaches, Tanaka pointed out, "It was an action that cannot be put to rest by simply calling it truly regrettable."

Tanaka also touched upon former university board and American football club member Tadao Inoguchi, who was close to Uchida, silencing the student player who made the tackle and the player's father: "I felt shock and intense anger that such a despicable action took place."

Additionally, to the members of the school's American football club, who remain suspended this season by the Kantoh Collegiate American Football Association and will not be able to participate in the fall league, Tanaka explained, "All I can say to all of you is that I am extremely sorry. It is my fault and that of the university that you have come to be in such unfortunate circumstances."

As both the third-party committee and the Kantoh Collegiate association pointed to Tanaka's responsibility for the foul play, he said he "took those words deeply to heart" and had "caused a great loss of trust in Nichidai." He ended his statement writing, "We will be vigilant so that this never happens again, and will be aware of this lesson as a foundation for working toward reviving Nichidai."

Nihon University President Kichibee Otsuka also released a statement the same day. He disclosed that along with outlining concrete measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such a play by the beginning of September, the school would be establishing a sports club reform committee that includes outside experts to oversee the progress of the improvement measures.

(Japanese original by Miaki Tsuburaya, Sports News Department)

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