MIKE NIETO: It's a second strike for Seton

2013-12-26T18:00:00Z 2013-12-27T02:35:13Z MIKE NIETO: It's a second strike for SetonMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
December 26, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

Two different scenarios, two different coaches, two different parts of the state.

The same kind of negative fallout for one school. Once again, for the second time in little more than a nine-month span, Seton Academy boys basketball program is in the news for an incident at a basketball game that was unrelated to basketball.

The first time was at the Class 2A state finals in March at Peoria. Harrisburg and Seton staged what Illinois High School Association executive director Marty Hickman called an "embarrassing situation," and it took a month for the IHSA to hand out sanctions. Then-Seton coach Brandon Thomas, who is now an assistant at Kankakee Community College, and Harrisburg coach Randy Smithpeters were handed suspensions for the 2013-14 postseason.

On Dec. 20, there was a physical altercation in the closing seconds of a highly contested game at Seton between the Sting and Leo. Both benches emptied and the IHSA suspended several players from each team as well as Seton coach Justin Domingo and Leo coach Noah Cannon. Both teams were a little thin for their McDipper games Thursday.

IHSA media relations director Matt Troha told me in a text message that it was a "disappointing situation that clearly has no place in athletics at any level."

In a Christmas Eve news release, Hickman said: "These actions have no place in athletics at any level and will not be tolerated."

Thursday, the IHSA added to its actions as Leo president Dan McGrath said both Smith and Williams are suspended for two games and must take an online course in sportsmanship and report to the IHSA.

Seton athletic director Deon Tolliver had no comment. McGrath was willing to talk about the incident.

"We by all means take the matter seriously," McGrath said at Thursday's Leo-Joliet Central game at the McDipper. "It just doesn't seem right that the perpetrator and the victim should be treated the same ... We will cooperate with the IHSA."

There should be stricter sanctions against the player that threw the punch. There needs to be a message sent that this has no place in athletics.

Texted on Dec. 20 after the incident and asked what happened, Tolliver texted back "What happened?", feigning ignorance of any incident. He threw out of the gym a reporter from another publication and warned him not to publish anything about the fight.

In fairness, Seton and Leo officials, plus security and South Holland police cleared the gym and I was told from the Leo people that they did a great job to keep a bad situation from getting worse.

The situation was not only unfortunate, but uncalled for. What will the IHSA do to Seton's program?

This is two times now and a reputation follows. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away. If it happens again, one wonders what the IHSA or Seton officials will do then.

It's hard to tell.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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