September 24, 2012

NCAA Reprimands Gait, Tumolo for Misconduct in Title Game

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter

An official issues Syracuse coach Gary Gait a yellow card late in the second half of the 2012 national championship game for leaving the bench area as he tries to explain he thought a timeout had been called. Gait was critical of the officiating afterward. "We felt like at times we were playing against a couple teams," Gait said.
© Lee Weissman

Syracuse women's lacrosse coach Gary Gait and 2012 Tewaaraton Award finalist Michelle Tumolo have been publicly reprimanded by the NCAA for comments and actions at the Division I women's national championship game against Northwestern in May.

The NCAA, in a posting on its website, said Gait was "found to have engaged in misconduct by making postgame press conference comments critical of the officiating following the championship game," and Tumolo, the Syracuse junior attacker, "engaged in misconduct by making unsporting comments and placing her hands on a game official after being issued a second yellow card during the game."

In Syracuse's 8-6 loss to Northwestern in the title game at Stony Book's LaValle Stadium on Long Island, the Orange became increasingly frustrated throughout the game. As Lacrosse Magazine editor Matt DaSilva wrote the night of the May 27 game in "Northwestern Wins Seventh NCAA Championship"...

The wheels fell off for Syracuse with 3:22 remaining [trailing 8-6]. After a [Taylor] Thornton foul set up a free position opportunity that could have pulled the Orange within one, Northwestern called for a stick check on Syracuse midfielder Sarah Holden. The stick was ruled illegal, the penalty offsetting the Thornton foul and resulting in a toss.

With all other players' sticks on the ground for the stick check, Gait left the sideline to lobby for a yellow card on Thornton thinking a timeout had been called. As he approached the middle of the field, the officials instead issued him a yellow card.

"I thought it was a timeout. The sticks were on the ground and the bench official didn't say anything," Gait said. "It was an error."

Tumolo drew a red card [for her second yellow] on top of that two minutes later, effectively ending any chance of another Syracuse comeback. The Orange had erased a seven-goal deficit to defeat Florida in Friday's semifinal, another game in which there was illegal stick intrigue. In that game, it was Syracuse that called for a stick check on Florida attacker Gabi Wiegand after she scored the apparent go-ahead goal in overtime. The Orange was successful in its challenge and went on to win in double overtime.

Gait criticized the officiating after the championship game Sunday.

"We felt like at times we were playing against a couple teams," he said. "Battling that second team makes it tough out there."

Tumolo, as described, was given a red card and by NCAA rule will be suspended for the Orange's next game, the first of the 2013 season. The NCAA also said Tumolo's transportation expenses and championship per diem were withheld. Aside from the public reprimand, Gait faces no additional penalty.

In the NCAA announcement, Candice Lee, whose term as chair of the Division I women's lacrosse committee ended in August, said, "The women's lacrosse committee was disappointed with the unsportsmanlike actions displayed by the coach and student-athlete. We believe these types of behaviors only serve to discredit the sport of women's lacrosse and the championship."

Syracuse started fall ball practices on Monday. Gait declined comment to the Syracuse Post-Dispatch before practice.

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