NCAA Reprimands USC Tennis Coach Leach and Son

Associated Press

The National Collegiate Athletic Assn. said Monday that it had reprimanded USC tennis Coach Dick Leach and his son, player Rick Leach, for verbally abusing and threatening spectators during the Division I tennis tournament last spring at Athens, Ga.

The NCAA also said it was withholding a portion of USC's reimbursement for travel expenses of the incident, which occurred after Rick Leach had lost a third-round singles match.

The incident began when hecklers taunted the Leach family as they left the court. Rick Leach exchanged angry words with Georgia player Tim Ruotolo, threatening to break a racket over Ruotolo's head, then jumped onto the hood of a car and threatened other hecklers with his racket.

Dick Leach was quoted as saying, "All Southerners can go to hell," and vowed to have the annual tournament removed from the University of Georgia, where it has been played since 1977.

The NCAA action was taken although "there was a certain level of provocation" from spectators, said Jeff Frank, chairman of the NCAA men's tennis subcommittee.

"However, the subcommittee does not condone (the Leaches') actions and comments . . . or subsequent public statements made by (Dick Leach)," Frank said. "It believes their behavior was highly inappropriate. Their concerns should have been addressed through other channels."

(In Los Angeles, a spokesman for the USC athletic department said that Dick Leach was believed to be on a cruise and unavailable for comment.)

Tournament officials have been ordered by the NCAA to develop a comprehensive crowd control plan.

The tennis subcommittee took its action in June, and was upheld in a vote of the executive committee Aug. 10-11.

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