Repercussions from the bitter end of UCSB’s 2010 men’s soccer season have hit the Gauchos on the eve of the 2011 season. Head coach Tim Vom Steeg, junior Machael David, and seniors Waid Ibrahim and Tim Pontius have been assessed various penalties by the NCAA for misconduct following UCSB’s controversial 2-1 defeat at UC Berkeley in the second round of the NCAA Division I playoffs last November.
Vom Steeg has been issued a public reprimand for engaging in misconduct “by making postgame press conference comments critical of the championship, the officiating and the Division I Men’s Soccer Committee,” according to an NCAA press release. In addition, the coach has been fined $600.
David has been issued a three-game NCAA postseason championship suspension for verbally abusing the referee. The suspension was appealed by UCSB, but an NCAA administrative committee upheld it because of the “intensity and duration” of David’s disparagement. That would force the Gauchos, if they make it to this year’s NCAA tournament, to play without David for up to three games. “We have put the Berkeley match behind us,” said UCSB’s athletic director Mark Massari. “While we continue to raise our concerns over officiating mistakes and championship oversight during that match — through the proper channels — we are thankful that the Administrative Committee of the NCAA Division I Championships handled our appeal fairly.”
Ibrahim and Pontius also were charged with verbally abusing the referee, but their penalties were limited to the withholding of their transportation expenses and per diem allowances during the NCAA championships. David also was deprived of those benefits.
Former Gaucho players Danny Barrera and Michael Tetteh also were involved in a verbal confrontation with the referee, and the NCAA issued them suspensions if they ever were to play for a school in its jurisdiction. Both players have left UCSB, and Tetteh has been playing Major League Soccer. “Our actions postgame are not indicative of how we have represented the University in the past or how we will in the future,” Massari went on. “We in Athletics take our role at this wonderful University and in this community seriously and with a sense of pride.”
Vom Steeg and the Gauchos were incensed over the decisions of referee Mike Kampmeinert during the match in Berkeley, specifically his red-carding UCSB’s Luis Silva after he had made a hard challenge to a Cal player, who subsequently shoved him down and hit him in the face. The Gauchos had to play short-handed for the majority of the match but still managed to take a 1-0 lead in the second half. It was erased in the last minute when the Golden Bears were awarded a penalty kick. Cal won the match in sudden-death overtime.
John Diffley, chair of the Division I Men’s Soccer Committee, affirmed that UCSB’s grievances were no excuse for the reactions of the coach and players. “The men’s soccer committee was very disappointed with the unsportsmanlike actions displayed by the coach and student-athletes,” said Diffley, senior associate athletic director at St. John’s University (New York), in the NCAA release. “We believe these types of behaviors only serve to discredit the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship and trust that the appropriate actions will be taken to prevent these types of behaviors from occurring again in the future.”
UCSB will unveil its 2011 team in an exhibition game against Westmont College on Saturday night at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos will host Seattle University in their first regular-season match on August 27. Their schedule includes an October 5 home game against defending national champion Akron.
Vom Steeg’s teams have made nine consecutive appearances in the NCAA postseason championships. Should they make a 10th run in the playoffs, the suspension of David looms as a difficult hurdle. A defensive midfielder, David is a key player in the Gauchos’s scheme and led the team by logging 1,986 minutes last year.