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Tuskeegee Cheated out of 27 Game Winning Streak
Tuskegee gets apology for game-changing blown call
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Not that it will matter, but Tuskegee University got a formal apology from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last week.
Sorry about those referees who missed that touchdown catch that would have put you ahead of your archrival Alabama State in the final moments of the Turkey Day Classic.
Sorry about that touchdown catch that was ruled out of bounds that could have extended your winning streak to 27 games had it been correctly ruled in bounds.
Sorry about that touchdown catch that wasn\\\'t counted and probably cost you another black college national championship.
Oh, and by the way, we fired the referee who ruled Jonathan Lessa out of bounds.
It\\\'s not unprecedented for officials to miss a call. You see it every week - right, every fan of every losing team?
It is not even unheard of that a ref gets canned for his performance, although it doesn\\\'t seem that the ref\\\'s bosses generally make those personnel decisions so public.
A conference press release Friday said the SIAC crew \\\"did a distressingly poor job officiating the contest.\\\"
Back judge Philip Harden was the guy who, as it turns out, was in the right place at the wrong time. He ruled Lessa did not have control of a Jacary Atkinson pass before going out of bounds in the corner of the end zone with the Tigers down 17-13. It was the second-to-last play of the game. On the final play, Alabama State intercepted a Tuskegee pass with no time left on the clock.
The SIAC\\\'s supervisor of football officials, Moses Norman, said in a statement, \\\"My conclusion is that the ruling by the back judge was in error because visual evidence available to me contradicts his explanation regarding the player being out of bounds when he secured possession of the football. Thus, the play should have resulted in a touchdown for Tuskegee.\\\"
George Mategakis, who was in his final week as interim league commissioner, said \\\"to miss a call like this will not be tolerated. The balance and result of a sporting contest should not be decided by officials, instead it should be decided by the players.
\\\"It\\\'s simply inexcusable for officials to alter the outcome of a contest by making terribly wrong calls. In no way, shape or form do we condone mediocrity from our officials and appropriate and harsh measures have been taken in order to send a stern message to current and future SIAC football officials.\\\"
New acting commissioner Harry Stinson III said Monday that in his four years at the conference office he could not remember an official\\\'s suspension being announced publicly.
\\\"It wasn\\\'t based solely on him missing that call,\\\" Stinson said. \\\"Unfortunately for Tuskegee, it was a culmination of things that occurred during that game as well as (Hardin\\\'s performance) the entire season.\\\"
TU Athletics Director Stacy Danley had protested the officials\\\' handling of the game in which the Tigers were flagged for 14 of contest\\\'s 25 total penalties for 118 yards. Alabama State picked up seven first downs on penalties. He sent the conference office a photograph of the disputed play and DVD of the game.
There\\\'s nothing more the conference can do, although there is some talk that Tuskegee could appeal the game\\\'s outcome to the NCAA. Since the referees\\\' boss has already admitted an error, it doesn\\\'t seem there would be much more that could come from the disappointing incident.
It\\\'s sad that officially Tuskegee lost the game and that there will always be a cloud of controversy over the Hornets\\\' victory. Maybe, though, the conference\\\'s message to future officials will translate into better crews for next season. News staff writer Mike Perrin covers state colleges. Write him at email@example.com. Check out Perrin\\\'s blog at blog.al.com/pressbox.
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