The Times West Virginian

November 19, 2009

Kniceley issues an apology

By Andy Kniceley

I want to issue a sincere apology to Fairmont State University, assistant football coach Gary Lanham, the FSU administration and the Board of Governors for an incident that occurred after the Oct. 31 game against Concord.

My actions as a parent concerned about his son’s playing time led to irresponsible conduct on my part.

It was a frustrating day, and it had been a frustrating season. As a father it bothered me that my son had only gotten in for three plays. I was frustrated for him.

Coach Lanham elected to start all the seniors. Josh and I fully understood the reason for the coach’s decision. In fact, the player that started in Josh’s position at right guard has been a starter for most of his career at several different positions on the offensive line. He’s a fine young man and has had a solid career.

Following the game, the team gathered near the center of the field for head coach Mike Lopez’s post-game remarks. As usual, parents, family and friends gathered around the perimeter of the huddle to wait for their dismissal.

While I was looking for Josh, I saw Coach Lanham standing away from the crowd of people near the visitor’s sideline.

Since Josh had been a starter for two years and had played far less than either of us expected, I wondered whether anything, other than preference for senior players on Senior Day, had caused the significant reduction in Josh’s playing time. Although I had never had reason to discuss playing time with a coach before this, it did not seem inappropriate.

Moreover, I had known Coach Lanham for several years and felt comfortable with asking him for an explanation. Things didn’t go quite as expected. When I engaged Coach Lanham, I did so as a father and my emotions got out of control, resulting in a shouting match that I take complete blame for.

The entire incident lasted less than two minutes. A police officer on the field at the time and my son broke up the discussion. The officer later filed a written report of the incident, but no official complaint was filed, nor did the police interview me about the matter.

I regret that this incident escalated in the manner that it did. I am sincerely sorry if I offended Coach Lanham. He has been my son’s coach for two years and I have the utmost respect for him.

In addition, I wasn’t prepared for this incident to be seen as me acting as the chairman of the Board of Governors. I attended the game as Josh’s father. I was there to cheer on Josh and the Fighting Falcons football team. I approached Coach Lanham as an inquisitive parent.

But I should have known that I cannot separate my position at FSU or my role in the community as publisher of this newspaper from parental concern in a situation such as this, especially when my emotions got the best of my behavior.

I have learned a lesson that I should have known beforehand. I regret any embarrassment or discomfort that I have caused FSU, my newspaper and my family — especially my son Josh.