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Ponds says racial slur ignited spitting incident and he’s not sorry

September 24, 1997

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ Syracuse senior linebacker Antwaune Ponds says he owes an apology to the youngest fans but not to an assistant Tulane coach he spit on.

``For what he said to me, he’s lucky that’s all I did,″ Ponds told the Syracuse Post-Standard in Wednesday’s edition.

``The thing that I am sorry about is that I’m an intern social worker at an elementary school, so I have to go in to the kids and explain what happened.″

The spitting incident involved Tulane strength and conditioning coach Mike Iosia. It occurred immediately after Syracuse’s 30-19 victory Saturday night at the Carrier Dome and was captured on videotape by a television news crew.

Iosia, who leads the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at Tulane, said he ran onto the field to congratulate Syracuse’s players. Instead, he found the Orangemen yelling profanities at Tulane’s team chaplain and tried to intervene.

Ponds told the newspaper that Iosia used a racial slur that prompted his reaction. However, he refused to reveal what Iosia allegedly said.

But, Gorman Ponds, Antwaune’s father, told the newspaper that the Tulane coach called his son ``a nigger.″

``The people who know me as a person, they know that something had to be said,″ said Antwaune Ponds. ``I never in my four years playing here at Syracuse have done anything like that. So something had to provoke me to do that.″

In a statement issued by Tulane, Iosia denied Ponds’ accusation.

``I did not, or would never, use derogatory language toward or about anyone,″ said Iosia, an American Samoan who was the recipient of an NCAA ethnic minorities postgraduate scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi. ``Any suggestion that I did use any derogatory language misrepresents my character and integrity.″

Tulane athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement she had looked into the matter and was satisfied that Tulane staff, ``and in particular Coach Iosia, acted in an appropriate manner.″

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