ALBANY — His best player didn’t play Saturday, but did Tuesday.
In between, University at Albany men’s lacrosse head coach Scott Marr had harsh words Monday for the NCAA regarding the situation involving sophomore Tehoka Nanticoke prior to the organization reinstating the player’s eligibility that evening.
On Tuesday, 70 minutes before the opening faceoff of UAlbany’s game against UMass that the Great Danes lost 14-8, the NCAA issued a statement via its verified @InsidetheNCAA account that took issue with Marr’s description that the NCAA had suspended Nanticoke because of a social-media post that was viewed as promoting a company, which is an NCAA violation.
The NCAA’s tweet reads: “The Albany lacrosse coach made inaccurate statements. Here are the facts. The NCAA did not suspend Tehoka Nanticoke. Albany proactively withheld him Saturday after finding a violation. The NCAA acted on Monday, the same day Albany reached out, and said he did not need to sit.”
The Albany lacrosse coach made inaccurate statements. Here are the facts. The NCAA did not suspend Tehoka Nanticoke. Albany proactively withheld him Saturday after finding a violation. The NCAA acted on Monday, the same day Albany reached out, and said he did not need to sit.— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) March 5, 2019
Noticeably, that statement doesn’t address Marr’s description of the NCAA as a “big-brother monopoly” during a radio interview Monday or the comments he made later when speaking with local reporters regarding the overall topic of amateurism and the NCAA.
“The NCAA makes a lot of money off of athletes and they pretend to be student-athlete friendly,” Marr had said Monday after his team’s practice. “I don’t see any friendliness with suspending a kid indefinitely for making a mistake.”
After his team lost Tuesday despite a three-goal game from Nanticoke in UAlbany’s home opener at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, Marr addressed the situation related to Nanticoke’s suspension and his comments about it.
“We got off to a slow start and never really got ourselves in the game — emotionally or even physically. I just think we were pretty flat and just never really got out of it,” said Marr, who declined to bring players to the postgame press conference. “Same time, I have to apologize to my team just for the distraction that I created with my mouth. Hopefully, we’ll get through this today and get ready to play on Saturday.”
Marr was emotional as he delivered the opening statement to his press conference. Asked about the NCAA’s tweet, though, Marr disagreed his assessment had been incorrect.
“It’s the way the rule is,” Marr said. “It’s a mandatory suspension right away, so it doesn’t matter if the NCAA did it or our school did it. It’s all the same.”
Asked directly if he had made any “inaccurate statements,” Marr answered: “No. I knew what I was doing.”
There is truth to both the NCAA’s take and Marr’s take — and a healthy amount of gray area, too.
Nanticoke’s Instagram post that started off the situation came to UAlbany’s attention Friday morning, and Marr said Monday he was alerted Friday morning that Nanticoke would not be able to play in Saturday’s game at Cornell.
Per a UAlbany athletic department spokesman, the school made no formal contact with the NCAA on Friday, but began its process that day and finalized its paperwork with the NCAA on Monday. As the process dictates, Nanticoke was ineligible because of the violation he had committed — and the NCAA, the UAlbany spokesman said, agreed Nanticoke did commit a violation — until the NCAA formally reinstated his eligibility Monday. So, if UAlbany had played Nanticoke on Saturday, the team would have used an ineligible player.
While Marr didn’t apologize for the content of his comments on the NCAA, he said he “shouldn’t have done it” because of the fallout that ensued that included the NCAA issuing statements related to UAlbany men’s lacrosse on two consecutive days.
Marr said nobody from the NCAA had directly contacted him about his comments, but that the situation created after his comments affected his team’s performance Tuesday, both for the players and the coaches.
“It was a distraction for me because now I have to deal with my administration, and my boss, the president,” Marr said. “It’s just not healthy for me. When I’m not on my game, it affects the team and I wasn’t on my game today.”
On the field, UAlbany (1-3) struggled against UMass (2-3). Nanticoke was the lone UAlbany player to score multiple goals, and the Great Danes won only 7 of 26 faceoffs and didn’t score on any of five man-up opportunities. UAlbany trailed only 9-6 late in the third quarter after a 3-0 run, but UMass scored the next three goals to put the game away.
“We’ve got to find the right chemistry and the right balance on offense,” said Marr, who credited his defense for keeping the Great Danes competitive for most of the contest.
Coming up, UAlbany plays No. 7 Maryland Saturday at Casey Stadium. The following Saturday, UAlbany opens America East play vs. UMass Lowell.
UMass 3 2 5 4 — 14
UAlbany 1 2 3 2 — 8
UMass scoring: Procyk 3-1, Philpott 3-0, D. Spencer 2-2, B. Spencer 2-0, Connolly 0-3, Suboch 0-1, Tobin 2-0, Cutinella 2-2, Trainor 0-1, Proctor 0-1.
UAlbany scoring: Nanticoke 3-1, Patterson 1-1, Diamond 1-1, J. Burgmaster 1-0, S. Eccles 0-2, Ramirez 1-0, John 1-0,
Goalies: UMass, Sconone, 16 saves. UAlbany, Siekierski, 14 saves.