This press release is from Northern Illinois University Office of Public Affairs, as sent to

July 16, 2001


DE KALB, IL: Head strength and conditioning coach John Binkowski was fired today and two football players have been suspended from the team following an incident last Thursday in which Binkowski ordered members of the NIU football team to run through a visiting drum
corps practicing in Huskie Stadium.

Two members of the Capital Regiment drum corps from Columbus, Ohio were injured, one with a hairline fracture of the jaw and the second with a severely sprained ankle.

Binkowski, a two-year veteran of Huskie athletics, was fired early this morning for what the university called "hostile, unprofessional conduct toward university guests that put student athletes in an unacceptably compromised position." An investigation revealed that Binkowski, angered over a stadium scheduling conflict with the band, ordered a group of about 20 football players to run directly through the practicing regiment.

Two players who caused injuries to the young musicians have been identified by the victims. Anthony Falbo, 20, a junior defensive tackle from River Grove, was arrested at the scene, charged with battery and suspended from the football team. A second player was also identified and NIU police say they expect charges to be filed against him as well. Football officials say the second player will also be suspended once charges are filed. The players face a range of student judicial sanctions in addition to the criminal prosecution.

Other student athletes involved in the incident may receive student judicial sanctions pending further investigation into the nature of their involvement. All of those involved also face disciplinary action from head football coach Joe Novak, who is reviewing the matter with
police and other university staff.

Drum Corps Midwest has held its championship competition at NIU for about 15 years. The popular event draws 25 different regiments from around the Midwest, and thousands of spectators from across the country.

NIU President John Peters is overseeing the investigation and subsequent actions related to the incident. He called the matter "appalling," and pledged that the university would "do everything possible to get to the bottom of this."

"I am deeply disturbed by this incident," Peters said. "I have offered my apologies on behalf of the entire NIU community to the drum corps members and their families, and will continue to ensure that their needs are met.

"I can only say that the actions taken by the coach in question and by the players involved were inexcusable. This is not what this university or this athletic program is about, and I am ashamed of the individuals involved."

In addition to the termination and suspensions, Peters announced that the university has waived all of the costs and charges associated with DCM's use of NIU facilities this year. Officials estimate annual DCM rental revenue at between $14,000 and $19,000.

"It is extremely unfortunate that the poor judgment of a small number of individuals should reflect so badly on our university," Peters said. "I am committed to doing whatever it takes to assure the drum corps community that we value and respect them, are very sorry about
this incident, and are working hard to make sure nothing like this ever happens again."


Contact: Melanie Magara, Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-1681



CyberWebMistress Caryn Roberts
Seattle Web Factory sCORPSboard Web and Page design ©1995-2001