University of Massachusetts football coach Mark Whipple has been given a one-game suspension for using the word “rape” in postgame remarks as he voiced frustration about the officiating during the team’s 58-42 loss at Ohio University on Saturday.

Whipple, 61, was also ordered to participate in a mandated sensitivity training program provided by the university.

The Athens (Ohio) Messenger reported Whipple’s postgame remarks about the officiating crew: “We had a chance late, with 16 down, and they rape us, and he picks up the flag. So our guys fought. They have a good team and they were home, and I thought our guys were certainly ready to play because we went up 14-nothing. We just have to get ready for next week. We didn’t make enough plays to beat a team like that.”

UMass Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford said in a statement released by the university last night, “On behalf of our department, I deeply apologize for the comments made by head coach Mark Whipple on Saturday after our game at Ohio. His reference to rape was highly inappropriate, insensitive and inexcusable under any circumstance. Coach Whipple’s comments don’t reflect the values of this institution, our athletics department or football program. Mark is disappointed in himself and understands his serious error in judgment.”

UMass, a former member of the Mid-American Conference, drew eight penalties for 77 yards that were handed out by an officiating crew that featured a woman, Amanda Sauer, as referee. The highly-respected Sauer, 41, has officiated a host of Big Ten, Mid-American and Missouri Valley games during her career.

A contrite Whipple, who could not be reached by phone Sunday, was apologetic, according to the UMass statement.

“I am deeply sorry for the words I used on Saturday to describe a play in our game. It is unacceptable to make use of the word ‘rape’ in the way I did and I am very sorry for doing so,” Whipple said. “It represents a lack of responsibility on my part as the leader of this program and a member of this university’s community, and I am disappointed with myself that I made this comparison when commenting after our game.”

Toni Troop of Jane Doe Inc. said, “It’s at the very least tone deaf. Drawing something that happened on a football field to rape is uncalled for. By drawing this analogy, it normalizes the word. Of course, like most coaches, he has a good reputation. We’d encourage him to take responsibility, acknowledge his mistakes, show some contrition and move forward.”

UMass defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham will handle acting head coach duty on Saturday when the Minutemen host South Florida at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Whipple’s tenure at UMass could be on shaky ground. He is 135-99 as a head coach, including 63-66 in two separate stints at UMass, where he guided the Minutemen to the 1998 NCAA Div. 1-AA title. Since his return to UMass, which now plays as an FBS Independent, in January 2014, Whipple has gone 14-40. Whipple reportedly makes between $450,000 and $500,000 plus bonus incentives for wins against Power 5 conference competition and for NCAA academic progress. There is also a buyout clause. Whipple had his contract officially extended to 2020 in April.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.