Washington coach Jimmy Lake under investigation for possible strike of player

Washington coach Jimmy Lake is under investigation by the school after he appeared to strike Huskies linebacker Ruperake Fuavai during Saturday night’s 26-16 home loss to No. 4 Oregon.

The incident came after a first-half kickoff in which Fuavai briefly was mixed up with Oregon’s Jaylon Redd near the Washington sideline. Replays show Lake thrust his right hand, which was holding a sheet of paper, into the helmet of Fauvai and then he followed up with a shove.

Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said the school was reviewing the incident.

“We are aware of an interaction between Head Coach Jimmy Lake and a student-athlete during the first half of Saturday’s game,” Cohen said in a statement. “We have high expectations of the conduct of our coaches and we are working to gather more information on this matter.”

Lake denied striking Fuavai after Saturday’s game.

“I went in to separate them and push them back,” Lake said. “After that, we settled down a little bit. That was our deal all week long was, ‘We got to have poise.’ We knew this was going to be a very heated matchup and there was going to be a lot of trash talking. And when we stepped in there, we were glad that a penalty wasn’t thrown on our guys to put us back even further on that kickoff return.”

Lake was asked in a follow-up question if he regretted striking Fuavai.

“I separated them. I didn’t strike him. I separated them,” Lake said.

Lake has guided the Huskies to a 7-6 record in two seasons, including 4-5 this season.

He was promoted to head coach after Chris Petersen resigned following the 2019 season. Lake was defensive coordinator and a protege of Petersen, who pushed the Washington administration to hire Lake.

Lake also created a stir during the week by mocking Oregon’s academic reputation.

The Huskies once were the elite program in the Pacific Northwest but were surpassed by the Ducks earlier this century. Oregon’s victory on Saturday was its 15th in the past 17 meetings with Washington.

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–Field Level Media