by Travis Normand
Today, Maryland defeated Penn State, 20-19. However, before the game, Maryland’s team captains refused to shake hands with Penn State’s team captains. I have watched a lot of college football in my life and I have never seen such a blatant act of unsportsmanlike conduct. It is my understanding that Maryland was flagged for this stunt, and I truly hope that was the case.
I won’t rehash the specifics of the incident, as you can read about it on ESPN.com, ESPN.com (Big 10 Blog), SI.com, and BleacherReport.com (video).
**Update: Nov. 3, 2014 – The Big 10 Conference has fined Maryland $10K for its pre-game behavior. You can read more about this fine / punishment at Yahoo Sports and / or SI.com. You can also read the Big 10’s official press release about this punishment at Big10.org (and I have also posted it below).
According to the press release, the conference did not specifically punish Maryland for the failure to shake hands prior to the game. However, it did call the behavior “exceptionally regrettable.”
Big Ten Statement
Nov. 3, 2014
ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten office today issued a public reprimand of Maryland football head coach Randy Edsall and student-athlete Stefon Diggs and imposed a one-game suspension of Diggs for violating the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy prior to the Penn State game on Nov. 1.
The Big Ten determined that Edsall failed to control his team prior to the game when Maryland players initiated a confrontation with Penn State players. The officials did a good job of containing the situation once it started, and fortunately the incident did not escalate any further. In addition to Edsall’s public reprimand, the conference announced that the institution has been fined $10,000 as a result of the violation.
The Big Ten also determined that Diggs’ actions toward officials and opposing players before the game violated conference policy. Diggs will serve his one-game suspension on Nov. 15 against Michigan State.
In addition, the decision by Maryland team captains to not shake hands with Penn State team captains during the pre-game coin toss ceremony was exceptionally regrettable. For many, many decades the intercollegiate pre-game handshake has been in place to reflect a spirit of good will and utmost appreciation for your opponent, the game and the institutions that sponsor your sport. Selection as a team captain is an honor that carries with it a greater responsibility to act in a manner consistent with those principles.
Big Ten Conference Agreement 10.01 states in part that “The Big Ten Conference expects all contests involving a member institution to be conducted without compromise to any fundamental element of sportsmanship. Such fundamental elements include integrity of the competition, civility toward all, and respect, particularly toward opponents and officials.”
The Big Ten Conference considers this matter concluded and will have no further comment.
Not shaking before the game is dumb.
After the game, it makes sense (emotions are high, and college kids do dumb things when they are emotional)….but not before.
I agree, however, I would say that not shaking hands either before the game, or after, is unacceptable.