Washington is looking into an incident that occured between second-year football coach Jimmy Lake and redshirt freshman linebacker Ruperake Fuavai during the first half of the Huskies’ game vs. Oregon on Saturday.
Video from the game showed Fuavai engaging briefly with Oregon senior receiver Jaylon Redd on the Huskies’ sideline after the play was over. After shoving Redd lightly in the back, Fuavai was seen backing off. Video shows that, several seconds seconds later, Lake came in from offscreen to reprimand his player; he also shoved an official to get to Fuavai.
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Lake appeared to slap Fuavai in the side of the helmet, causing the linebacker to turn his back to the coach. Lake then shoved him in the back, following him closer to the Huskies’ bench before the footage stopped.
“We are aware of an interaction between head coach Jimmy Lake and a student-athlete during the first half of Saturday’s game,” athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement. “We have high expectations of the conduct of our coaches and we are working to gather more information on this matter.”
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Lake was also asked about the incident following the game. He responded by saying he merely wanted to separate his player from the Oregon receiver.
“I separated him,” Lake said. “I did not strike him. I separated him.”
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It’s uncertain how Washington will reprimand Lake following the incident, if at all. Seven FBS coaches have already resigned or been fired 11 weeks through the 2021 college football season.
The Huskies would go on to lose 26-16 in a chippy game vs. the rival Ducks, one in which officials took off a late touchdown by Oregon that would have made the game even more lopsided. With the loss, Washington fell to 4-5 on the season; the team needs two wins in three of its remaining games to become bowl eligible.