FSU Basketball Player Suspended Over Vicious Hit on Opponent from Tewksbury
FITCHBURG - Nichols College sophomore guard and Tewksbury native Nate Tenaglia calmly shot a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner on Tuesday night during his team’s season opener at Fitchburg State.
He held his follow-through and watched the ball fall through the net. Then, out of nowhere, he was victimized by what many are calling one of the dirtiest plays in recent college basketball memory.
The vicious incident happened with less than three minutes remaining. Video footage shows Fitchburg State’s Kewan Platt jogging up to Tenaglia after he buried the 3-pointer and clocking him with a brutal right elbow to the face that knocked the unsuspecting Tenaglia down hard to the court and had him writhing in pain as he covered his face with his hands. That video has gone viral and received national attention.
Platt was hit with his second technical foul of the game and was ejected. On Wednesday, Fitchburg State announced that he had been suspended from the team and barred from campus.
“The Fitchburg State community is appalled by the conduct displayed during Tuesday night’s home basketball game. The player involved has been indefinitely suspended from the team and barred from campus, effective immediately,” the university said in a statement. “His behavior is antithetical to our community values and good sportsmanship. Fitchburg State does not tolerate behavior that violates those standards. The case is being reviewed at the student conduct level for consideration of further sanctions.”
Tenaglia was able finish the game. He even made both free throws after the technical foul was called on Platt. Nichols won, 84-75.
“We were troubled by the unfortunate incident that occurred at Tuesday evening’s men’s basketball game at Fitchburg State University,” Nichols College Athletic Director Chris Colvin said in a statement. “The Nichols College student-athlete involved was able to complete the game, and we continue to monitor his health. We are proud of the way our student-athletes handled the incident and that they did not allow it to escalate. We are aware that the Fitchburg State administration is handling the matter.”
Back on the Fitchburg campus, the administration’s quick response was applauded.
Nursing student Michelle Lombardo, 18, said the school made the right decision to expel Platt. “He assaulted someone, I don’t want him on campus, no.”
The elbow check generated negative publicity, but isn’t reflective of the university, Evangeline Cakounes, 19, said.
“It’s unfortunate, but it could have happened anywhere, I don’t think it’s a reflection of Fitchburg State,” she said.
According to reports, Tenaglia had guarded Platt throughout the game, but there were no previous altercations in the contest or heated moments. No one seems to be sure what set Platt off or motivated him to do what he did.
“I don’t recall seeing an incident like this before,” said Colvin when reached by phone. “From talking to our coaches, we’re not aware of anything that led up to this, other than (Tenaglia) was the player guarding (Platt) during the game.”
Colvin said that Tenaglia, who scored more than 1,000 points during his career at Tewksbury High, would not be available for comment on the incident and that he and the team were trying to move forward. The game was also the first for new Nichols head coach Scott Faucher.
Platt, a junior from Jamaica Plain, was FSU’s leading scorer on the young season. The criminal justice major was a transfer student from New York’s Monroe Community College, playing 45 games and averaging 9.5 points per game. His name has been removed from the roster on the school’s athletic website.
The day before the incident Platt had been named the MASCAC Player of the Week averaging 24 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists during two games, a win and a loss for the team.
“The case is under review by Fitchburg State for consideration of further sanctions. The MASCAC has also vacated his player of the week award. His behavior goes against the MASCAC’s mission which includes good sportsmanship,” MASCAC tweeted.
Fitchburg State student Clayton Rodriguez, also a criminal justice major, said he has the same Latin American studies class as Platt.
The class met Wednesday, the day after FSU played Nichols College, he said.
A police officer pulled Platt out of the class at about 1:30 p.m., according to Rodriguez.
“The cops came and yanked him out of class today, I was like, shocked,” he said, on his way to the Recreation Center. “The cops were like, ‘can you come here’ and they took him and he didn’t come back anymore. They had a report in their hand so I assume it was because of the incident.”
Rodriguez, who attended Tuesday’s game, said he agreed Platt deserved to be booted off the team, but said his expulsion was a step too far.
“It’s his education, OK, just punish him and kick him off the team, make a public announcement, say sorry, but consider his education, because education’s important,” he said.
Off campus, there was more concern for Tenaglia.
“I have heard from the Fitchburg State director of athletics and the commissioner of the MASCAC. Both of them expressed their concern for what happened and apologized,” said Colvin. “Obviously, they were embarrassed and are looking to remedy that situation moving forward.”
Phil Conners, who coached Tenaglia at Tewksbury High, was watching the game over a live stream.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Conners, now the coach at Burlington High. “Biggest cheap shot I’ve ever seen.”
Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone.