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Why were Clemson’s Erik Bakich, Jack Leggett ejected vs Florida? What NCAA said

An NCAA official has provided clarification on why Clemson head coach Erik Bakich and special assistant Jack Leggett were ejected near the end of Sunday’s thrilling super regional loss against Florida at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

The Tigers took a 10-9 lead in the top of the 13th inning on right fielder Alden Mathes’ solo home run, but Bakich and Leggett, Clemson’s head coach of 22 seasons who’s back with the team as a program development coach, were both ejected from the game following a dispute with umpires.

The argument seemed to stem from the umpires discussing whether or not they would discipline Mathes for spiking his bat after his home run, something Leggett and Bakich both took issue with and confronted the officiating crew about.

Florida ultimately won the game 11-10 on a walk-off, RBI double in the bottom of the 13th inning to eliminate the No. 6 overall seed Tigers from the postseason and advance to the College World Series. Had Clemson won, the teams would’ve played a deciding third game some time Monday. Florida won the first game Saturday.

After The State and other media outlets formally requested an explanation of Bakich’s ejection and Leggett’s ejection from the NCAA, the NCAA provided the following statement Sunday night, as distributed by a Clemson spokesman.

NCAA baseball secretary rules/editor Randy Bruns wrote that he had “not received any specific details” about what Bakich and Leggett said and did in order to be ejected but outlined the rules related to their ejections:

“A head coach who is ejected but then immediately stops arguing and leaves the field is not suspended per Rule 2-26, he said. “However, per Rule 5-15-a-4, any team personnel who has been ejected and continues to argue or continues to excessively express themselves with prolonged actions or offensive language is suspended for 2 additional games.”

“Team personnel other than the head coach (such as an assistant coach or player) who are ejected also serve a one-game suspension per Rule 2-26-f.”

The statement came roughly three hours after the game ended at 7:39 p.m.

Overnight Sunday, the game’s crew chief, Billy Van Raaphorst, released a lengthy separate statement detailing how Bakich and Leggett both ignored multiple “prolonged warnings” from the umpires after initial ejections for unsportsmanlike conduct, leading to both coaches getting suspended for another two games (starting in 2025) on top of their initial ejections.

A Clemson spokesman said Bakich wasn’t allowed to participate in a postgame news conference because NCAA rules prevent coaches who’ve been ejected from doing so. No Clemson coaches spoke with media postgame — only players.

Bakich is expected to conduct a season wrap-up news conference in the near future.

Previous controversy

Before Bakich and Leggett were ejected from Sunday’s game, Clemson had already been involved in one controversy that led to a player being ejected.

Clemson starting first baseman Jack Crighton was ejected from the game following a sequence in the top of the second inning in which Florida pitcher Jac Caglianone made contact with Clemson batter Nolan Nawrocki while tagging him on a ground-out and Nawrocki pushed him in response.

As Nawrocki and Caglianone got in each other’s faces and exchanged words, Crighton, who’d been on second base heading into the at-bat, rounded third base and headed toward the direction of the altercation (and Clemson’s dugout).

The ESPN broadcast originally speculated that Crighton had been ejected for making contact with an umpire (he made light contact with the home plate ump as he got in on the altercation).

But NCAA baseball rules editor Randy Bruns said in a statement read on air on the ESPN broadcast and later provided to The State that Crighton “was ejected from the game for leaving his position on the field because he went to the site of the potential altercation.”

That initial statement from the NCAA’s Bruns, released midgame, also said: “Members of both teams were warned against any further unsportsmanlike conduct and if there are any issues the remainder of the game this would also result in an ejection for any given student-athlete, coach, or team personnel.”

As a result of his ejection, Crighton will miss Clemson’s 2025 season opener. If the Tigers had won Sunday, he would not have played in the decisive third game of the super regional. Bakich expressed frustration with the ruling during a midgame interview with ESPN.

“The explanation I got was he was on base and left his position — even though it was the third out of the inning and he was coming back to the dugout,” Bakich said. “ So, I don’t know what to tell you there.”

Clemson head coach Erik Bakich is walked back by umpires while trying to get a word in with Greg Harmon, at right, who ejected Bakich during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich is walked back by umpires while trying to get a word in with Greg Harmon, at right, who ejected Bakich during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich has a word or two for an umpire after being ejected from the game during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich has a word or two for an umpire after being ejected from the game during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich is backup by umpires while he tries to get to Greg Harmon, who ejected him during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich is backup by umpires while he tries to get to Greg Harmon, who ejected him during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich gets the crowd fired up after being ejected from the game during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)
Clemson head coach Erik Bakich gets the crowd fired up after being ejected from the game during NCAA Super Regionals action on Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Clemson, S.C. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)