Ferris football program reprimanded by NCAA

Coach Tony Annese suspended for one playoff game and program must pay 17k in damages and fines

Following the NCAA’s one-game suspension of football coach Tony Annese, Ferris students have taken to social media in droves to voice their opinions.

The NCAA announced on March 23 that the Ferris State football program will be reprimanded for incidents that occurred during last year’s national championship game. The reprimand is comprised of a one game suspension from a future playoff game for head coach Tony Annese, $15,383 in restitution to the McKinney, Texas Independent School District and a $2,500 fine.

A statement from Ferris State University details the incidents from December.

“Two football student-athletes lit and began smoking cigars in Ferris’ McKinney ISD Stadium locker room during the celebration following the game,” the statement said. “A small number attempted to remove Ferris State University branded temporary wall stickers to keep as souvenirs inside the locker room after the game.”

The Torch opened a poll to allow students to anonymously share their thoughts on the punishment. The majority of the responses were critical of the NCAA’s decision.

“Honestly, I think it’s a joke,” one response read. “The media glorified Joe Burrow when he smoked a cigar in the locker room after [Louisiana State University] won the National Title in Division I. It’s the NCAA who chooses to have the DII National Title at a high school. I don’t care where it is, the rules should be applied the same no matter where you’re playing.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Burrow and Louisiana State won the 2020 national championship, is a “non-smoking, non-vaping and tobacco free campus.” However, it does not look like the university faced any reprimand for Burrow’s cigar smoking. The only thing known is that, according to Burrow, he was almost arrested following the win.

The reprimand against Ferris went viral. BarstoolDetroit’s Twitter post regarding the matter, which was captioned with “Free Tony Annese,” received nearly 2,000 likes, 237 retweets and 59 replies. Their Instagram post had nearly 7,000 likes and 251 comments.

BarstoolFerris’ post added to the virality with 1,246 likes and a caption that read “Maybe we shouldn’t play in high school stadiums.”

Annese’s suspension is one that will have to wait to be served, as he will be allowed to coach for the entirety of a regular season that has yet to begin before facing a one game suspension in a postseason the Bulldogs have not yet qualified for.

The NCAA’s statement alleges that Ferris athletes have behaved inappropriately before the 2023 national championship game.

“The subcommittee noted the head coach is responsible for the actions of the individuals within the program, and this circumstance was not an isolated instance, given the program has committed multiple cases of misconduct recently,” the NCAA said.

Ferris football seemingly attempted to appeal the reprimand as the DII Championships Appeals Subcommittee had “upheld” the penalties.

Ferris State Athletics declined to comment on the suspension, restitution and fines any further than their released statement.