Appalachian State students allege Miami players ‘shoved,’ ‘groped’ during pregame entrance

In this image from a Palm Beach Post video, Miami takes the field against Appalachian State. Members of the home school's color guard alleged UM players assaulted them during the entrance. (Matt Porter)

In this image from a Palm Beach Post video, Miami takes the field against Appalachian State. Members of the home school’s color guard, which can be seen standing in front of the sideline, alleged UM players assaulted them during the entrance. (Matt Porter)

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Appalachian State students said several Hurricanes players physically and verbally assaulted members of the school’s color guard as Miami ran onto the field before Saturday’s game.

In a public Facebook post, color guard member Sophie Randleman, a junior at ASU, said one of her fellow students was “shoved by several very large, intentionally aggressive, football players.” Randleman said the color guard member “had severe pain and had to sit for most of the game.”

Randleman said she later learned that “several other members were groped, sworn at, taunted and touched in ways that were definitely not asked for.”

Appalachian State Police Lieutenant Richard Hicks said no charges have been filed, but the department is investigating the matter.

Miami Athletics Director Blake James said in a message to The Post that the school was addressing the incident.

“We have already followed up seeking details from both the football and administrative staffs,” James said. “The University of Miami does not tolerate any kind of suggestive behavior, harassment or inappropriate conduct and we will take action if our students did engage in this type of behavior.

“We have been in touch with App State and we have spoke to individuals and reviewed video and at this point, there is no indication of inappropriate conduct.” He said UM’s review is ongoing.

Appalachian State Athletics Director Doug Gillin was out of town, according to a staff member, and was unavailable for comment. Randleman said in a message to The Post that ASU’s administration is aware of the incident.

(Update: Appalachian State sent this statement on Tuesday: “Members of the university’s staff are looking into information sent via email, as well as discussions on social media that surfaced over the weekend regarding the color guard at Saturday’s game.”)

From its seat in the press box on Saturday, The Post recorded both teams’ entrances. The Appalachian State color guard stands in front of the far sideline, waving flags. From this video — shot high above the field, with a mobile phone — it is difficult to tell if anyone was assaulted. It is also, obviously, impossible to determine intent.

Randleman told The Post that the student who was shoved was standing near the end zone in the left of the video.

While Randleman’s comments should be concerning to UM, it is not typical for a color guard to be standing in the path of a team running into the field. Visiting teams don’t usually have to dodge students.

“It has happened before in my three years here, and I do realize that it’s a poor placement for us to be so close to [players],” Randleman said. “In other situations where it has occurred, the teams would run through and not make a big deal out of it. In some cases, players have apologized.

“In that case, it’s fine. In this case we were harassed and interrupted, and I would like to avoid this happening to us or any others in the future.”

Miami and Appalachian State had not played before Saturday’s game, which the Hurricanes won 45-10. It was the first time the Boone, N.C. school hosted a Power Five conference opponent. Miami will host the return meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2021.

 

 

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