Washington Huskies football coach Jimmy Lake has been suspended one game without pay after an incident with linebacker Ruperake Fuavai, per Mike Vorel of the Seattle Times.
Lake appeared to strike Fuavai in the helmet during Saturday's 26-16 loss to Oregon after the player was involved in a scuffle with the opposing team. The coach denied hitting the player after the game.
"I separated him," Lake told reporters. "I didn't strike him. I separated him."
Athletics director Jen Cohen announced Monday Lake will miss the next game against Arizona State with defensive coordinator Bob Gregory serving as interim coach.
"While we do not believe that his actions were intentional or deliberate, we can have no tolerance for a coach interacting with a student in the manner Coach Lake did," Cohen said in a statement. "We have high expectations of conduct for our coaches, and we will not shy away from those expectations."
Lake apologized to Fuavai and the team in a statement on Monday:
It continues a staff shakeup for Washington after the team announced the firing of offensive coordinator John Donovan on Sunday, elevating Junior Adams to play-calling duties.
The Huskies (4-5) currently rank 109th out of 130 FBS teams with an average of 22.0 points per game.
Lake is in his second season as the team's head coach, although the 2020 campaign was limited to just four games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The squad began this year with high expectations ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll, but a Week 1 loss to Montana set the tone for an up-and-down season.
The 44-year-old first came to Washington in 2014 after working as a defensive backs coach at both the college level and in NFL. He worked his way up to defensive coordinator before replacing Chris Petersen as head coach in the 2020 season.
After serving his one-game suspension, Lake will try to close the year strong with games against Colorado and rival Washington State.