On Nov. 10, senior offensive linemen Sam Parker went to the media to give his perspective on the incident that led to the suspension of football Head Coach Tony Annese.
“It was cold, it was snowy, and we were playing terrible,” Parker said. “One of the players on the sideline was disrespecting the team. [Annese] walked up to the player at halftime and jostled him by the shoulder pads and struck him a few times on the shoulder pads, asking if he was with us or against us and trying to pump us all up.”
In a TV interview with WoodTV8, an NBC News affiliate in Grand Rapids, Parker told the news crews specifically that Annese hit the player no harder than one would hit a TV to get it to work.
“He went up and did the same to a few other players,” Parker said. “Its no different than what you see coaches do on the sideline every day. He then went into the offensive room, threw a small white board at the lockers, then threw a backpack at the lockers, and left the room.”
According to Parker, Annese then told support staff, “If that doesn’t get them going, I don’t know what will.
Prior to approaching the media, Parker consulted his position coach, Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Rob Zeitman, to tell him what he planned to do. Zeitman is serving as interim Head Coach in Annese’s absence.
“He told me that I had never signed anything saying I couldn’t talk to the media,” Parker said. “He told me I wont get in trouble with the school or NCAA for speaking out. The rumors flying around are ridiculous and detrimental to the team, I just wanted to set the story straight.”
As of noon on Nov. 11, Parker has not been contacted by the Athletic Department regarding his statement, and says he did not speak to Athletic Department officials prior to speaking to the media.
The Torch attempted to reach Annese for comment twice, once at 1:06 p.m. on Nov. 7 via text message and once by phone at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. Annese did not answer either message.
The university released a statement regarding the Oct. 26 incident that took place at halftime in the locker room at Michigan Tech University via news services and social media manager Sandy Gholston at 7:44 p.m. on Nov. 6.
The statement did not specify the incident in question, but said “University officials conducted an immediate review of the incident.”
Ferris junior defensive end Carlton Johnson expressed disappointment with the administration’s decision to suspend Annese.
“I think it’s sad that people that don’t even know the situation can hand out a suspension,” he said. “To tell you the truth, [it] don’t even make sense.”
Though the tactic may have gone awry, the Bulldogs who went into the locker room down 21-10 on Oct. 26, stormed back to life and won 30-27 in Houghton for the first time in 15 years.
Ferris Athletic Director Perk Weisenburger was reached and said he was unable to comment on the situation per university Policy.
“As this is a personnel issue, the University will not make any additional comments regarding this incident,” Gholston wrote in the press release.
Weisenburger referred the Torch back to Gholston who was to handle all comments on the situation.
At 2:06 p.m. on Nov. 7, Gholston returned a call to the Torch and said that the report was not available.
The Torch submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to Ferris Vice President and General Counsel Miles Postema and the Athletic Department at approximately 4 p.m. on Nov. 8. Under FOIA guidelines, the university has five business days from receiving the request to respond.