ESPN News Services
UMass has suspended football coach Mark Whipple one week without pay and ordered him to undergo sensitivity training after using the word “rape” in describing a non-penalty call during Saturday’s 58-42 loss to Miami of Ohio.
“We had a chance there with 16 down and they rape us, and he picks up the flag,” Whipple said after the game in discussing a non-call on what he saw as pass interference on UMass receiver Andy Isabella.
A statement issued Sunday by UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford in announcing the suspension read, in part: “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.”
The suspension will include Saturday’s game against South Florida, with defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham serving as interim head coach for the game.
Whipple is in the fifth year of his second stint as UMass coach. He has also been a longtime NFL assistant coach. He is 14-40 with UMass since 2014, but from 1998-2003 he led the Minutemen to five winning seasons, including a Division I-AA national title. UMass now plays at the highest level of Division I, the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“I am deeply sorry for the word I used on Saturday to describe the play in our game,” Whipple said in a statement. “It is unacceptable to make use of the word ‘rape’ in the way I did and I am very sorry for doing so. It represents a lack of responsibility on my part as a leader of the 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.”
Whipple, in complaining about what he said he thought was home-friendly officiating for Miami (Ohio), later described the same play and used the words “absolutely mugged” instead of “rape.”
Whipple’s contract runs through the 2020 season and pays him $500,000 this year.
The head referee for the game was Amanda Sauer, the first female official in the Mid-American and Big Ten conferences.
Bill Carollo, the coordinator of football officials for the MAC, Big Ten and Missouri Valley Conference, told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg the calls were reviewed Saturday and Sunday and he saw no problems with the officiating.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.