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Tomey defends decision to start Savea


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

"If all the facts are known it'll be apparent that things have been done consistently and correctly." Dick Tomey UA head football coach

By Chris Jackson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
October 27, 1999
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Arizona head football coach Dick Tomey said yesterday he stands by his decision to start UA senior right tackle Manuia Savea during Saturday's game against Oregon, despite Savea's arrest on domestic violence charges Thursday.

"It's a serious thing when you get arrested," Tomey said. "If it's a misdemeanor charge there's a standard procedure, and if it's a felony charge it's another thing. If a player gets arrested we have to figure out what the facts are, we have to act immediately, and we do that. Sometimes I have to do what is appropriate based on other cases and what's been done in the past. I can't just do something when there's a charge -ěthat's not fair to anybody."

Savea was arrested Thursday night and charged with domestic violence assault, domestic violence damage and contributing to the delinquency and dependency of a minor when he and his wife were involved in an altercation while their three children were present.

Neighbors called officers from the Tucson Police Department, who responded at about 9 p.m. Savea was then arrested and booked into Pima County Jail.

TPD regulations state that suspects in domestic violence incidents are arrested and transported to the county jail.

Savea was released on Friday and started against Oregon Saturday night.

Tomey said the issue with Savea is not comparable to an earlier incident this season when he removed two players from the starting lineup for missing a practice.

"Well, I think what that says is you've got to know the whole story in all cases," he said. "I think when the whole story comes out about Manuia's situation, I feel very comfortable that what we've done with him is appropriate. And what we've done with him is not completely known but I think it's very appropriate given the circumstances because I think I know exactly what happened."

Tomey said his decision to bench senior inside linebacker Scooter Sprotte and senior free safety Rafell Jones for missing a Sunday morning practice on Sept. 19 is based on guidelines he follows which vary for different types of incidents.

"As far as those players are concerned they were removed from the starting lineup for what was in my opinion the most important practice of the year," he said. "They've had a chance to win their job back and haven't done that yet but they've done some good things."

"But I think when you know the whole story (about Savea), I don't have one doubt we've acted fairly and consistently in all those cases."

Tomey said he made his decision in consultation with UA athletic director Jim Livengood, who in turn consulted with UA President Peter Likins on the matter. UA spokeswoman Sharon Kha said Livengood always keeps Likins informed on serious issues involving student athletes.

Likins said he agreed with Tomey and Livengood's decision to allow Savea to play.

"Jim Livengood keeps me very well apprised of events in the Athletic Department, but I have a lot of confidence in the coaches, and I trust their judgment completely about which players should play in any given game," Likins said through UA spokeswoman Sharon Kha. "Jim Livengood's job is to pick the coaches and he and I together make the decision about the direction athletics is going. But I don't make decisions about which player is playing. That's the coach's job."

Tomey said the obvious time restrictions he faces in making a decision can cause people to perceive that he's making a snap judgment.

"I have to do the best I can," he said. "I don't have a month or two months. I present exactly what the circumstances are to Jim Livengood and we go over all the reports and interview everybody. If we can't tell we'll always err on the side of not the player but on the side of the charges. But we're also instructed by the (Arizona) Board of Regents that we can't comment on charges until the case is completed."

Tomey said that when the case is completed, people should see the reasoning behind his decision.

"If all the facts are known it'll be apparent that things have been done consistently and correctly," he said. "I would say the problem with so many of those cases is that...if the (real) facts do come out, if they are found to be inconsistent with what's alleged it's never produced by the media. You just don't see it."

The fact that Savea is a senior and the starter at right tackle never factored into the decision, Tomey said.

"The difference is we have to take a look at what happened the best we can and make a determination," Tomey said. "Folks, I'll tell you the truth we have suspended more players here for misconduct maybe than anybody in this conference. And I will stand on our record on that. We've had guys miss important games who play at important positions. It's never a consideration for us what position the guy plays."

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