ACC suspends UNC's Rashad for Vernon collision, officials from 2 games for rules mistakes
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Atlantic Coast Conference has issued one-game suspensions to North Carolina freshman linebacker Shakeel Rashad for colliding with a Duke player during a substitution, and three officials from the Duke-UNC and Florida State-Miami games.
In the Duke-UNC game, Rashad knocked down receiver Conner Vernon — who was already lined up — from behind while running in at the last moment from the sideline. Vernon returned to the game on the next play.
The league also suspended head linesman Tyrone Davis and side judge Angie Bartis "for failure to adhere to correct mechanics of the game and rules related to player safety."
During his weekly news conference Monday, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said Rashad had "no malice at all" when he collided with Vernon, the Blue Devils' top receiver.
"There was no intention whatsoever on his part, I assure you, to actually run into the guy," Fedora said. "If he would've been more athletic, he probably could've missed him. But I also don't know exactly what he was looking at as he was running out there. I know this: He was in panic mode because he was supposed to be on the field and he wasn't out there and they were fixing to snap the ball."
In a statement, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said he was disappointed with the suspension and didn't understand "how the conference can suspend a player who was involved in such an unusual play without speaking to him."
Rashad also apologized to Vernon in a statement Monday evening.
"I was in a hurry to get on the field and focused on where I was going," he said. "I have been playing football for most of my life and I have never been involved in that type of incident. I did not mean to run into him and I'm glad he was not hurt. He's a great receiver and I wish him the best."
The FSU-Miami officiating crew will receive letters of reprimand, while crew chief and referee David Epperley was suspended "for failure to properly administer the 10-second runoff rule" at the end of the first half of a nationally televised game.
Originally, after a Florida State false-start penalty, officials ruled the half over because the runoff would have erased the remaining time, so Miami left the field. But Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher used his last timeout to nullify the runoff with 9 seconds left, giving Dustin Hopkins a chance to kick the 46-yard field goal that gave FSU a 13-10 halftime lead on the way to the 33-20 victory.