One of the biggest contributor’s on Lehigh University’s football team won’t be taking the field for the No. 6 ranked Mountain Hawks in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
All-American wideout Ryan Spadola was suspended by the NCAA FCS Championships Committee for Saturday’s playoff game against No. 4 ranked North Dakota State because he retweeted a tweet that was sent to him prior to the Mountain Hawks’ 40-38 preliminary round win over Towson.
The tweet reportedly used a racial slur to describe Towson students. Even though Spadola didn't offer the tweet he did retweet it, which led to his punishment.
On Thursday, the junior finance major out of Howell, N.J. was suspended.
“A Lehigh student-athlete who used a slang racial epithet in a social media exchange late last week has been suspended by the NCAA FCS Championships Committee for Saturday’s NCAA Football Quarterfinal.
At the time the incident was discovered, the student made a series of apologies and Lehigh imposed an obligation to conduct a series of campus discussions around the topics of derogatory racial language and its impact. The decision to suspend participation for the game this week results from the adverse impact on the FCS Championship caused by the message.
The poor judgment by our student in responding to an inflammatory message by using the same inappropriate language ultimately served to disaffect the FCS Championship. The suspension delivers a clear message that this is not acceptable behavior within college athletics.
Spadola said he was sorry via Twitter over the weekend but on Thursday he apologized again for his actions:
To my competitors, teammates and to everyone else who has seen the tweet I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior. At the time I received and forwarded the tweet, I didn't stop to think about how this could be offensive. In hindsight, I recognize that it was clearly inappropriate. I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity. Everyone who knows me knows that to be true.
The Morning Call describes what Spadola means to Lehigh on the field:
Lehigh is 11-1 and ranked No. 6 in the country and features one of the nation's top passing offenses, thanks in large part to Spadola, who has caught 96 passes for 1,614 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He set a Lehigh record for receptions in a single season and school and Patriot League records for receiving yards.
Even though Spadola reportedly tweeted the epithet last Friday, it didn’t come to light until after the Towson game where he caught 13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Lehigh -- without their No. 1 receiver -- plays North Dakota State at 4 p.m. Saturday in Fargo, N.D.