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UI football: Coach Paul Petrino, reporter at odds over confrontation

MOSCOW, Idaho – With the support of Idaho athletic director Rob Spear, Idaho football coach Paul Petrino issued a statement on Thursday denying a claim made in a column written by the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that he needed to be restrained during a confrontation with reporters following Wednesday morning’s practice.

“Today the Moscow-Pullman Daily News published an article stating that I had to be ‘physically restrained’ from one of their reporters, and insinuated that I intended to physically harm him.  This is not an accurate account of what happened after yesterday’s practice,” Petrino said in a prepared statement.

Spear began the press conference stating a similar defense of his coach, citing his interview with two athletic department personnel who were in the vicinity during the incident.

“I want to make it very clear that at no point was Coach Petrino restrained,” Spear said.

Per the column written by the Daily News, the incident began when Petrino took offense to criticisms written in blog posts by Michael-Shawn Dugar of the Daily News and Theo Lawson of the Lewiston Morning Tribune referring to occasional poor play by the quarterbacks.

That’s when, Dugar wrote, Petrino began to approach them and became threatening. From the column:

“But moments later, Petrino walked up to me and the Tribune reporter just outside the practice field and began to scream in my face, loudly informing us how many deep balls the team completed Wednesday. He then went on to chide us for our inaccurate criticisms of quarterback Matt Linehan and our lack of football knowledge, walking away saying, ‘You don’t even know what the (expletive) you’re talking about! Do your (expletive) job!’ ”

Dugar continued: “Then he turned back and started to move toward me, still angrily shouting expletives about my writing and my professionalism while being physically restrained by one of his assistants, approaching me as if he had plans to do something other than verbally express his concerns.”

Petrino expressed regret for his behavior on Wednesday, but disagreed with the context in which Dugar described it.

“Yesterday I reacted poorly to what I believed to be unfair criticism directed at our players and our program.  I allowed my passion for the program and our players to spill over into a conversation with Mr. Dugar in which I used an unprofessional tone.   I apologize for my language and looking back, I wish that I had handled it differently,” Petrino said. “But, again, let me be clear:  I never threatened Mr. Dugar and I was never physically restrained from approaching him; any other characterization of the events yesterday is simply not true.”

Petrino pulled the two reporters to the side shortly after the press conference for a private conversation. Afterward, Dugar stood by his column in a Tweet.

“I will say this about those statements today: I stand by every word of my column,” Dugar Tweeted. “It’s 100 percent accurate. There will be no retraction/apology.”

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