POCATELLO — Idaho State University head football coach Mike Kramer has been suspended from coaching against the University of Montana this Saturday after shoving wide receiver Derek Graves during an Oct. 3 practice.
The repercussions against him and the school may continue.
Donald Jackson, the Alabama attorney representing Graves, said he anticipated the university would take minimal or no action against Kramer and believes that it is time to petition the NCAA to intervene.
“I would consider it minimal when you have a head coach shoving a player on university property and all he gets is a one-game suspension,” Jackson said. “It almost says they are willing to tolerate that kind of behavior.”
The attorney, who has represented players, coaches and universities in matters dealing mostly in the area of eligibility, said incidents such as this do not typically draw the NCAA’s intervention.
“But at the same time, they do have an obligation and an interest in looking out for the safety and welfare of student athletes at an institution,” Jackson said. “In this case, it’s clear that the institution has failed.”
Jackson said Tuesday afternoon that he plans to petition for NCAA intervention within 24 hours.
The university is already under investigation by the NCAA for alleged rules violations involving at least one athletics booster.
Kramer is currently being investigated by the Pocatello Police Department for shoving Graves to the ground during an
Oct. 3 practice. The university brought in a third party, a retired FBI agent, to handle its investigation into the incident.
Jeff Tingey, ISU’s athletic director, announced on Tuesday via a written release from the university and during the Bengals’ weekly football news conference, that Kramer will be suspended for this weekend’s game.
“Following a thorough investigation, Coach Kramer will serve a one-game suspension for this Saturday’s game at Montana,” he said.
He also said the coach was “issued a letter of reprimand for his violation of ISU’s conduct policy.”
Bengal offensive coordinator and associate head coach Don Bailey will serve as acting head coach during the game while defensive backs coach Daniel Drayton will serve as defensive coordinator.
The athletic director also said that although Kramer is suspended for Saturday’s game, he will be allowed to coach the Bengals during the week and “all the way up until the bus leaves for the stadium.”
Tingey and Kramer said they would not comment further about the situation because of the potential for criminal charges being filed against Kramer as well as potential civil suits against the coach and the university.
“As this is a personnel matter, I will stick with the university policy as will everyone else in the department, and will not comment any further on this,” Tingey said.
Tingey would also not confirm whether the university’s investigation is complete, saying only “thanks for your time. I appreciate it,” when asked.
Kramer was also unwilling to talk about the shoving incident or the one-game suspension.
“I’m not talking about any other situation other than the fact that as a football team we continue to try and grow, become better at all positions, at all categories and in every single way,” Kramer said.
The coach also declined to comment as to whether Graves is still a member of the team.
“We have no comment on players who are available or unavailable,” he said. “We never talk about guys that are unavailable and right now he is still not available. Our team is an internal thing. It’s a private matter and it’s a family matter.”
Jackson believes ISU’s one-game suspension of Kramer stops well short of the mark in this instance.
“A coach engaging in this kind of conduct should not be on the sidelines at a university, a high school, a middle school, an elementary school or any organized sports,” Jackson said. “If a chemistry professor behaved the same way in a classroom, would that conduct had been tolerated?
“If the student had acted out and did the same thing to another student, or another athlete on that team, what would have happened? That student would have been arrested, and kicked off the team and probably have lost his scholarship.”
Jackson admits he’s pretty passionate about this topic, but not only because Graves is his client. A former college athlete himself, Jackson says he has no tolerance for the kind of conduct Kramer displayed against Graves.
“No matter who I am representing, this conduct would not be acceptable to me,” he said. “If I am representing a coach, this would be offensive to me. If I am representing a university and a coach did this, it would be offensive to me.”
Jackson called the entire situation unfortunate, but also said he doesn’t believe officials at ISU had any intention of taking action against Kramer. He said there are no plans yet to file any kind of lawsuit and that he is still awaiting the completion of the police investigation.
Pocatello City Attorney Dean Tranmer said that investigation is still ongoing. Police detectives are working on resolving questions posed by city prosecutors, Tranmer said.
Although ISU would not answer questions about Graves’ current playing status, Jackson said he had not been cleared.
Watch video of the press conference: http://pocatelloshops.com/new_blogs/chase/?p=220