Idaho St. player: Coach pushed him
Two police agencies are investigating whether Idaho State head football coach Mike Kramer's two-handed push of a wide receiver during a recent practice constitutes criminal behavior.
The Pocatello Police Department is conducting an investigation alongside ISU campus police into the Oct. 3 incident involving Derek Graves, a senior wide receiver, and Kramer. A video of the incident obtained by "Outside the Lines" shows Kramer trotting across the practice field before appearing to push Graves to the ground with a two-handed shove to the chest. Graves fell backwards after the contact.
Graves told OTL that Kramer became irate when Graves preferred to face one of the team's veteran cornerbacks instead of a freshman cornerback during one-on-one drills in practice. When Graves tried waving over one of the older cornerbacks to face him, he said Kramer marched across the field and said, "He's a varsity f------ player" before pushing Graves. Graves said Kramer cursed again while he was on the ground.
Since the incident, Graves said, he has suffered from neck spasms and has not been cleared by the team's medical staff to resume participating in practices or games. Graves had 36 receptions in Idaho State's first four games, including back-to-back games with 15 catches. He has not played since.
Graves filed a police report with Pocatello police on Sunday after his family retained Alabama attorney Don Jackson. Jackson said he notified the university president and athletic director of the incident last week. Pocatello police declined to release the report to OTL.
"I've seen Kramer get in guys' faces and curse them, but never saw him do anything like this or put his hands on anyone," Graves told OTL. "I was humiliated at the moment. If I retaliate, I could lose my senior season. If I didn't do anything, I would look like a punk. It was a no-win situation."
Graves said that he and Kramer had never been close, but their relationship had been "fine up until now."
Idaho State assistant athletic director for media relations Steve Schaack said Tuesday that Graves has not been "available" for the last two games and provided no more details. He referred to a "school" investigation as "open" and declined to comment further. Schaack said Kramer also had no comment.
Graves' attorney said because of the video and number of witnesses, "This investigation should have taken five minutes to complete. There is no justification for a college coach ever putting his hands on a player."
Kramer is in his second season at Idaho State. He was fired from his previous coaching job, at Montana State University, in 2007, after several former MSU players were arrested or charged with crimes involving drugs within a one-year span. Kramer sued the university over his dismissal and later settled the lawsuit before it went to trial.
Steve Delsohn is a reporter and Justine Gubar is a producer for ESPN's "Outside the Lines".