Washington Huskies football coach Jimmy Lake receives 1-game suspension for role in sideline incident with player

Washington Huskies football coach Jimmy Lake has been suspended without pay for one game after a sideline incident in which Lake appeared to strike redshirt freshman linebacker Ruperake Fuavai's helmet during the team's 26-16 loss to Oregon on Saturday.

Athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement that the school had spent the past 24 hours reviewing video of the incident as well as talking to Lake and Fuavai and other players and staff before arriving at their decision.

"While we do not believe 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.

Lake issued a statement Monday evening, apologizing to Fuavai and the entire Huskies program.

"I fully accept the decision that was made. Our team has a right to expect better than what I displayed on Saturday, and I'm committed to doing just that -- being better so our program will reflect all that's good about being a Washington Husky," Lake said.

Lake will not participate in any football activities until Sunday, and defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will handle head-coaching duties against Arizona State.

The incident in question took place after Fuavai was tangled up with an Oregon player following a first-half kickoff. Lake explained after the game that his intention was to break it up, but the TV replay showed Fuavai had already backed away from the opposing player by the time Lake got there and appeared to move his right hand toward the player's helmet before pushing him toward the bench.

"I separated them," Lake said Saturday night. "I didn't strike him. I separated them."

Gregory, in his eighth season on the Washington staff, said he did not find out about the incident with Lake and Fuavai until he got home after the game and received a text message. Gregory said that Cohen addressed the team about the decision to suspend Lake.

"This is a great challenge for all of us. It's a great challenge for myself ... all of our coaches, great challenge for our players,'' Gregory said. "But this is what it's all about. If it was all good right here, we probably wouldn't be sitting here. But these are the times that we can teach great lessons to young men and we're all looking forward to it.''

Washington is 4-5 this season under Lake and 7-6 overall since he replaced Chris Petersen as head coach after the 2019 season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.