PAM, pigskin don't mix at Sacramento State
HELENA, Mont. -- Players from Sacramento State greased their jerseys with nonstick cooking spray on the sidelines during their loss at top-ranked Montana last weekend, the Big Sky Conference said Thursday.
The league and Sacramento State are trying to figure out how many players applied PAM to their uniforms and if the coaches knew about it, to determine a punishment.
"We've confirmed that an incident occurred that involved putting a foreign substance on the uniform,'' Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said. "The athletic director at Sacramento State (Terry Wanless) confirmed that it occurred.''
Wanless said Thursday he was still investigating, but believes three players were involved. He said he had not decided yet what punishment the players might face from the school.
Sac State also could face punishment from the conference if it's determined that coaches knew what was occurring.
"We'll decide the penalty, depending upon who we find at the bottom of the pile,'' Fullerton said. He expected to announce his decision on Friday.
"I think it's a serious ethical breach,'' Fullerton added. "It's a planned activity.''
Reached Wednesday, Sacramento State head coach John Volek said: "I have no knowledge of Sacramento State players using PAM.''
However, Volek was not on the sidelines during the game, because he was serving a one-game suspension after complaining about the officiating in his team's 31-30 loss to Montana State a week earlier.
Defending national champion Montana rallied from a 21-14 deficit to beat Sacramento State 31-24 and tie an NCAA Division I-AA record with a 24-game winning streak.
Todd Goodrich, a University of Montana photographer, said he first noticed two players spraying each other near the end of the first half. He said he asked an equipment manager for the Grizzlies if he knew what it was.
"He told me, 'If you see them doing it again, take a picture,''' Goodrich said.
During the second half, Goodrich said he saw two more players spraying each other with a can of PAM and snapped several photos.
"They were pretty blatant about it,'' Goodrich said. "Right there on the sidelines.''
The photos were being turned over to the league. The University of Montana declined to provide copies to The Associated Press. The school said Grizzly players also were told not to comment.
Montana athletic director Wayne Hogan said he was taking the pictures to Fullerton on Saturday in Spokane, Wash., where Montana is playing Eastern Washington.
"It'll just be corroboration, I'm sure,'' Fullerton said. "We're more concerned with the ethics of the situation.
"We've done a lot over the last couple of years to talk about the ethics of playing a game with one another in the conference,'' he said.
"Terry Wanless is right on board with me -- he sees this as an ethical problem as I do,'' Fullerton said. "He's conducting interviews. I believe Sacramento State is ready to handle it no matter what they find, because they're frustrated with the situation.''
If the officials had noticed the spraying during the game, Sacramento State could have been charged with a time out, and the player would have been required to change his jersey. If more than one player was involved, or the Hornets were out of time-outs, the team could have been given a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty for each additional violation, Fullerton said.
Hogan said he turned the issue over to the league so it was aware that the "old football trick'' had made its way to the Big Sky.
"This is something that's popped up on the radar screen for the conference, and coaches, administrators and officials need to be aware of it,'' Hogan said. "If it just leads to some better police work and those sorts of things, it's going to be good.''
Fullerton said applying cooking spray to a football jersey could make it more difficult for opposing linemen to do their jobs.
"It actually does work, to a certain extent,'' he said. "That's why there's rules against it.''