The Good News Is Spring Football
April 2, 2001
PULLMAN, Wash. -- - Veteran Washington State University football coach Mike Price wasn't about to let some disappointing news Monday ruin his anticipation of spring football practice Tuesday.
The Cougars begin four weeks of spring drills at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and the list of returning veterans and starters brings a smile to Price's face, overshadowing recent events that have produced some frustration.
Monday, Price learned the NCAA had turned down Milton Wynn's final appeal for another year of eligibility. In addition he responded to weekend problems involving linebacker Champ Simmons, receiver Jason White and also starting tackle Tomasi Kongaika, who was injured during a recreation basketball game and will not be available for the first two weeks of spring drills.
Kongaika will miss at least two weeks of spring drills after suffering a dislocated knee cap during a pick-up basketball game at the WSU Recreation Center Sunday, according to Price. He played in 22 of 23 games the past two seasons, with 12 starts, six each in 1999 and 2000. Last fall he started the first three games of the season and then the final three games.
Meanwhile, WSU officials including Price were notified Monday by NCAA officials there will be no further review of Wynn's appeal for another year of eligibility. Wynn spent three years at two junior colleges before transferring to WSU and then spent the last two years with the Cougars.
Wynn had hoped to be granted an additional year of eligibility since he sat out one season because of a shoulder injury during his junior college career, then missed all but one WSU game in 1999 after suffering a broken finger.
With the loss of his appeal to the NCAA, Wynn will now turn his attention to the upcoming National Football League draft.
Price also responded to recent incidents involving football players Champ Simmons and Jason White.
'It appears Champ Simmons was the victim in the altercation at a WSU fraternity house Friday night,' Price said Monday, adding, 'the police and WSU's Office of Student Affairs are continuing their investigation.'
Simmons suffered a fractured right thumb and a fractured right cheek bone and will miss all spring drills, according to Price. The injuries, however, will not require surgery, said Bill Drake, head athletic trainer.
'It is my understanding the paper work concerning Jason White's community service has been filled out but has not reached the court,' Price said. 'It also did not help that his original probation officer left the area and the second officer he now reports to is on vacation,' added Price.
White is currently on probation after pleading guilty to a residential burglary charge during the summer of 1999. He was suspended from all football activities during the fall of 1999, then re-joined the team last summer.
When spring drills begin Tuesday, Price and his staff will greet 52 returning letterwinners from last fall, including nine offensive starters and 10 on the defensive side of the ball. Assistant coaching changes include Bob Connelly for John McDonell on the offensive line and Aaron Price for Eric Price as the quarterback coach.
'We're going to be making some changes offensively, some subtle changes, so we need to learn those adjustments,' Price offered. 'I think we need to settle on who our offensive line is going to be, at least the top six or seven players, and we need to look for wide receiver replacements. That's probably where the biggest questions for spring ball will be, at wide receiver. I feel good about the depth and the retention level of the defense. They seem to have retained quite a bit and appear ready to go.'