• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Washington suspends coach Jimmy Lake following sideline incident with player

·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jimmy Lake won’t be on the sidelines for Washington for its home game against Arizona State on Saturday.

UW athletic director Jen Cohen announced Monday that the university has suspended Lake without pay for the ASU game following a sideline incident during Saturday night’s loss to Oregon.

Lake, the Huskies’ second-year head coach, appeared to strike linebacker Ruperake Fuavai in the facemask after Fuavai and an Oregon player were engaged near the Washington bench after a first-half kickoff.

After the game, Cohen said the university would gather more information. Two days later, Lake has been suspended. Cohen said Monday that the decision was made after reviewing footage of the incident and speaking with Lake, Fuavai and other players and staff members. 

The suspension goes into effect immediately and will be lifted next Sunday, Nov. 14, the school said. With Lake suspended, defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will serve as the team’s acting head coach.

"While we do not believe that his actions were intentional or deliberate, we can have no tolerance for a coach interacting with a student in the manner Coach Lake did," Cohen said in a statement. "We have high expectations of conduct for our coaches, and we will not shy away from those expectations."

Later Monday, Lake issued an apology and said he accepts the suspension. 

Lake: 'I didn't strike him, I separated him'

Lake was asked about the incident after the game and said his intention was to “separate” the two players.

“Ruperake was up in an Oregon defender’s face. I went in to separate them and push him back,” Lake said. “Then after that, we settled down a little bit. That was our deal all week long. We got to have poise. We knew this was going to be a very heated matchup and there was going to be a lot of trash-talking. When we stepped in there we were glad that a penalty wasn’t thrown on our guys to put us back even further on that kickoff return.”

A reporter then followed up and asked Lake if he regretted “striking” Fuavai. Lake said he “separated” the players.

"I separated him. I didn't strike him. I separated him," Lake said.

Washington head coach Jimmy Lake talks with line judge Bob Day during an NCAA college football game against Oregon, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Seattle. Oregon won 26-16. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Washington head coach Jimmy Lake talks with line judge Bob Day during an NCAA college football game against Oregon, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Seattle. Oregon won 26-16. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Washington fired OC after ugly Oregon loss

Saturday night’s loss dropped Washington’s record to 4-5 on the season. In the loss, the Huskies had only 166 yards of offense. On Sunday, Lake fired offensive coordinator John Donovan.

Lake was Chris Petersen’s hand-picked successor after Petersen stepped down following the 2019 season. The Huskies went 3-1 in the abbreviated 2020 season and have struggled mightily in 2021. The year started with an ugly home loss to Montana, an FCS program.

In addition to his team’s lackluster play, Lake made headlines last week when he was asked if Washington and Oregon are rivals on the recruiting trail. Lake said Washington mainly battles with schools like Notre Dame, Stanford and USC, schools with “more academic prowess,” according to Lake.

“In our world, we battle more academically prowess teams,” Lake said.

Following Saturday night’s result, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal took a subtle shot at Lake during his media availability.

“I’m proud of the way our guys came over and showed their prowess in the inclement weather,” Cristobal said.

Following the Arizona State game, Washington will head on the road to face Colorado before hosting Washington State in the annual Apple Cup in the regular season finale. The Huskies need to win two of those three games just to be bowl eligible.

A fan holds up a sign after an NCAA college football game between Oregon and Washington referring to comments by Washington head coach Jimmy Lake, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Seattle. Oregon won 26-16. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
A fan holds up a sign after an NCAA college football game between Oregon and Washington referring to comments by Washington head coach Jimmy Lake, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Seattle. Oregon won 26-16. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)