Sports

Gum suspends himself for one game, apologizes for last week’s altercation

Anyone who pays attention to social media knows the UCA baseball team had a bench- clearing brawl with opponent University of Arkansas — Little Rock.

The event made several headlines around the nation, including making it to ESPN and Bleacher Report, among several others.

Though an unfortunate incident, cleared benches are not uncommon in baseball, as there was a bench-clearing brawl between the University of Florida and Florida State University on March 25.

Sometimes punches are thrown, but a lot of the time there is more pushing than punching.

Because of this, I will use the term “brawl” loosely when describing the April 2 event because the numerous videos I have seen, there seemed to be few to no punches thrown.

Just to make things clear, I was not at the game, so I didn’t see everything that happened. This is my opinion from watching numerous videos with different angles.

Head Coach Allen Gum has shown that he is a great coach in the past, but in an April 4 statement, Gum showed his leadership stretches beyond the diamond.

Gum had tremendous sympathy for the actions that took place April 2. In a statement on ucasports. com, Gum gave himself a one- game suspension, which he served for last Friday’s 6-0 loss against the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions.

Gum said he showed poor leadership by not going back to the coach’s box when UALR Coach Scott Norwood came out of the dugout after a 10th inning incident.

To my understanding, the situation arose after freshman outfielder Carson Dowdle stole second base, but the umpires decided to move him back to first when they reversed an interference call.

Gum moved from his position in the third base coaching box to give his opinion about the play to the umpires. That’s when Norwood came from his first base dugout and walked toward Gum, exchanging words.

In the statement, Gum said Norwood was saying expletives to Gum that “the team had been hearing all night.”

Gum and Norwood got face- to-face and things escalated from there.

Gum said he should have let the umpires handle Norwood and let the game progress, but in a situation like the one Gum described, I imagine it would be hard to put up with something like that the whole game and not do something about it.

I haven’t heard Norwood’s side of the story, so I cannot say if this is true or not, but I will relate Gum’s story to an analogy of a bully picking on someone.

We have all heard stories of how a kid a bully has been picked on finally stands up for himself. From what I’ve heard from Gum’s perspective, this is what happened during the game.

The situation took an ugly turn when UCA Assistant Coach Trent Kline came out and made contact with Norwood.

I have seen people say Kline pushed Norwood, but I’ve also seen people say Kline was trying to separate the two coaches and Norwood flopped. It’s really tough to say what Kline’s intentions were but I do believe Norwood flopped a bit.

I believe this is because when Gum and Norwood made contact, Norwood stumbled like Gum ran into him pretty hard, which was not the case.

In Gum’s statement, he said Kline was trying to separate both head coaches and Norwood tripped over the umpire’s foot.

After this, both benches cleared and players and coaches from both teams came together.

Cries from the crowd for both teams to stop the altercation were not heard but the teams did eventually separate and return to their respective dugouts.

Gum and Norwood were ejected from the game.

UCA went on to win the game in the 11th inning 5-4.

The game left both coaches with a feeling of regret as you will hear in Gum’s six-minute statement and Norwood’s apology he made to the fans, UALR and the players.

The NCAA stepped in after reviewing the video and NCAA- mandated suspensions were handed out. Further suspensions can be handed out if UCA Athletic Director Brad Teague chooses to do so.

Bears sophomore outfielder Tyler Langley was handed the harsher punishment of the four suspended from UCA by receiving an eight-game suspension.

Sophomore catcher Brandon Montalvo, junior infielder Nate Ferrell and Kline received four- game suspensions.

The suspensions started last Friday night and concluded Tuesday for Montalvo, Ferrell and Kline.

Langley will not be eligible to see the field again until Saturday when the Bears take on Nicholls State University.

Four players from UALR were also suspended for four games for their participation in the April 2 brawl.

I have seen people say the coaches should be fired or the programs should get suspended but that is going too far.

Both teams and coaches regret their actions and have apologized to their respective universities and the fans.

The NCAA-mandated suspensions should be enough punishment for those involved.

Both teams are scheduled for a rematch April 23 in Little Rock.

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