Utah athletic director Mark Harlan apologized Thursday to Arizona State football player Evan Fields, who received a vulgar message apparently sent to him by a Ute fan.
“We strongly condemn the behavior of the individual who directed such hatred toward an Arizona State student-athlete,” Harlan wrote via Twitter. “There is no place for such behavior from anyone who represents Utah Athletics directly or indirectly. … We have already begun to look into the identity of the individual to immediately address this behavior.”
Harlan’s apology to Fields and ASU’s athletic program came in response to a tweet earlier Thursday from Evonnda Fields, the player’s mother. She posted a screen shot of a direct message sent Sunday to her son, describing it as “a horrible hate message.”
Evan Fields was ejected for targeting in the second quarter of Utah’s 21-3 win Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The junior safety’s helmet-helmet hit caused Ute running back Zack Moss to temporarily leave the game and undergo concussion protocol on the sideline before returning to the field during that drive.
ASU coach Herm Edwards said after the game that he told Ute coach Kyle Whittingham he was “embarrassed” by ASU’s 12 penalties as the Sun Devils “lost our composure.”
On Monday, Whittingham said the apology was a “a class move," adding, "I’m not going to whine about anything or complain about anything. It was just a good, physical game.”
Fields “is not a dirty player; he's a tough guy,” Edwards told The Arizona Republic. “He's apologizing to me. I'm going, 'Evan, I got you. It happens.' I don't anticipate that to happen again.”
In a tweet Saturday night, Fields apologized to “Sun Devil nation” for his actions and also sent prayers to Moss and Ute quarterback Tyler Huntley, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.