College Official Loses Temper, Job Over Complaint About Son's Playing Time

Filed under: Sports, In The News

Ever wish you could take back something you said in moment of frustration or even anger at your child's sports game? It's hard to imagine wishing that harder than Andrew Kniceley.

Kniceley's 20-year-old son, Josh, is a sophomore offensive lineman who plays football for Fairmont State University in West Virginia. But he didn't get enough time on the field during one game to suit his dad.

After a 15-9 loss to Concord University on Oct. 31 in which the younger Kniceley saw action on only three plays, dad Kniceley allegedly had some strong words for one of the team's assistant coaches, Gary Lanham.

"Three plays, you have got to be kidding me three f---ing plays," Kniceley yelled at the coach, according to a police report quoted by the Charleston Gazette. The alleged exchange took place on Senior Day, when seniors traditionally see more action at the expense of underclassmen.

According to the newspaper, Josh Kniceley had to step in and make peace. "Come on, Dad, not here, don't do this," the football player told his dad, according to the Gazette.
Here's why the incident is so startling: Kniceley wasn't just any frustrated parent -- at the time, he was chairman of Fairmont State's Board of Governors. He resigned Nov. 20 in a swirl of embarrassing publicity.

The elder Kniceley is also the publisher of The Times-West Virginian in Fairmont. In the newspaper last week, he wrote an article apologizing for his awful sportsmanship.

"I want to issue a sincere apology to Fairmont State University, assistant football coach Gary Lanham, the FSU administration and the Board of Governors for an incident that occurred after the Oct. 31 game against Concord," Kniceley wrote in an article that appeared Nov. 19.

"My actions as a parent concerned about his son's playing time led to irresponsible conduct on my part. It was a frustrating day, and it had been a frustrating season. As a father it bothered me that my son had only gotten in for three plays. I was frustrated for him."

According to police reports published in the Gazette, Kniceley started yelling at the assistant coach after the game. Kniceley had his hand to his side, but kept going toward the coach, according to one of the police reports.

Lanham didn't want to talk to Kniceley because of the way Kniceley approached him, Lanham said in his statement to police.

"He then said to me, 'I will talk to you when I want and where I want to talk to you.' ... He kept coming at my chest to chest bump me and saying repeatedly, 'You will talk to me now,'" Lanham said in his statement.

When a Fairmont police officer spoke to Kniceley about leaving, he replied to the officer, "He would do what he wanted," Lanham said.

"Then he finally started to walk away. [Kniceley] looked back at me and stated that, 'You are a joke and I hope that he tells you to go get f--ed after this is over,'" Lanham told police. "I then was approached by his ex-wife and she had said that she was sorry that this happened."

ParentDish sports reporter Mark Hyman is the author of " Until It Hurts: America's Obsession With Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids" (Beacon Press).

Have a suggestion for an article on youth sports? Contact Mark at

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.