The Valdosta Daily Times
When the Valdosta State Blazers take the field Saturday against the Carson-Newman Eagles in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, they will be without one of their key weapons.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that junior wide receiver Regginald Lewis has been suspended for this week’s playoff game after he targeted West Alabama kicker Ryne Smith on a first quarter kickoff during last week’s 49-21 playoff win over the Tigers.
“Valdosta State certainly does not condone flagrant actions from any of our student-athletes that are outside the rules and accepted play of their specific sport,” Valdosta State athletic director Herb Reinhard said in a university release. “In regards to the hit on the West Alabama kicker, I am completely confident that Coach (David) Dean and his staff did not ‘coach’ the hit and that Regginald Lewis’ action was due to over-zealous play and his letting his on-field emotion get the best of him. Regginald has a reputation as one who plays completely within the rules of the game and I’m confident that his action was an isolated incident.”
Head coach David Dean was also issued a public reprimand for Lewis’ actions in the game, according to the NCAA’s official release.
“Neither I nor any member of the VSU coaching staff teaches or coaches the technique of flagrant fouls or intent to personally injure any player,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said in a release. “I have spoken with Regginald, he understands his mistake and has been very understanding of his punishment. I am convinced it was an isolated incident brought on by the emotions of a rivalry game. Regginald has always been a very emotional player that plays extremely hard, but always within the rules of the game. He realizes that this was not a technique that is coached by our staff, was not the intent of his blocking responsibility during the return and was a block on a defenseless player. After speaking with Regginald, he is very remorseful and sorry for his actions, and realizes the mistake that was made.”
Lewis was flagged for a personal foul on the play, costing the Blazers 15 yards in field position. The penalty was one of many thrown on both teams throughout the first quarter of the second round playoff game.
“In the postgame press conference, I alluded to this being embarrassing and not a part of college football, and apologized to all that witnessed the play. It is certainly not an action that we condone nor expect,” Dean said. “As (Regginald’s) coach, I take full responsibility for his actions, will suffer the consequences for his actions and will handle the disciplinary action that is deserved.”
According to the NCAA release on Wednesday, Valdosta State appealed the decision to the NCAA Division II Championships Appeals Subcommittee, which reviewed the facts and upheld the original ruling.
“The football committee was extremely disappointed with the unsportsmanlike action taken by the student-athlete,” said Frank Condino, chair of the Division II Football Committee and director of athletics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “Head coaches and student-athletes sign a code of conduct before each round of the championship that clearly defines the expectations of sportsmanship to be displayed. Mr. Lewis’ on the field action violated this agreement and has no place in Division II football. It also served as a discredit to the championship. It is the head coach’s responsibility to keep his student-athletes accountable to this sportsmanship agreement.”
Lewis is second on the team in receptions this season with 50, while he is third in receiving yards (653) and receiving touchdowns (4) in 11 games this season. Redshirt freshman Chris Anderson will likely fill in for Lewis this week, while junior Quin Roberson will likely see more passes thrown his way.
Saturday’s game between the Blazers and the Eagles is set for a noon kickoff from Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in Valdosta. The winner will advance to the national semifinals to face the winner of the Minnesota State-Mankato versus Missouri Western State matchup.