LAFAYETTE — The Sun Belt Conference announced Friday the suspension of the three umpires who worked last weekend’s baseball series between Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas State in the wake of the controversy surrounding the four-game suspension of Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux.
Don Hudson, Bruce Ravan and Roger Faulks were each levied a three-game suspension by Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson, according to an announcement released by the league office Friday afternoon.
“The Sun Belt is committed to ensuring that our game officials — like our coaches and student-athletes — are held to a very high level of performance,” Benson said in the statement.
“In this case and after a thorough review, it is my opinion that the overall performance of these three umpires did not measure up to this expected level of performance. And as a result, each has been suspended for an upcoming three-game series.”
Sun Belt associate commissioner John McElwain confirmed Friday that the suspension is not necessarily for this weekend’s games. Ravan is working the South Alabama-Georgia State series in Atlanta and was the plate umpire for the Friday night series opener.
Hudson, who ejected Robichaux in last Saturday’s game and filed the report that resulted in Robichaux’s four-game suspension, and Faulks were not listed on umpire crews for any of the five Sun Belt series in progress this weekend.
Robichaux, who is in Jonesboro, Ark., for a series that matches the top two teams in the Sun Belt standings in UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State, questioned whether Hudson would be subject to any conference action at his regular Monday press luncheon this week.
“I just don’t know who disciplines him for the game he had,” Robichaux said Monday. “I know I get disciplined, but who disciplines him? He gets to go back to work on Monday. I don’t get to work for four games.”
Robichaux, after being informed of Benson’s decision on Friday, deferred comment to the league and the UL-Lafayette athletic administration.
“I am extremely pleased the conference office investigated the situation with an open mind,” UL-Lafayette athletics director Scott Farmer said. “Commissioner Benson frequently talks about holding people accountable and I believe his actions today have proven that he holds all parties to high standards.”
Benson is more baseball-savvy than most collegiate commissioners. He played collegiately at Spokane Falls Community College and Boise State, was baseball coach at Fort Steilacoom Community College in Washington for eight years and also served two years as assistant baseball coach at Utah.
Robichaux was suspended for four games after making contact with Hudson during a fourth-inning argument in last Saturday’s 10-3 Cajun loss to Texas State. Robichaux was arguing Hudson’s overrule of a call at first base and made what he termed “incidental contact” with Hudson’s arm. NCAA baseball rules mandate a four-game suspension for contact with an umpire.
Texas State’s Trey Hicks was called out by first base umpire Faulks to apparently end that fourth inning when UL-Lafayette first baseman Chase Compton had to stretch for a wide throw. Texas State coach Ty Harrington disputed Faulks’ ruling that Compton kept his foot on the bag, and after an umpire meeting plate umpire Hudson overruled Faulks and called Hicks safe, which allowed a run to score.
Video replays showed Compton’s foot leaving the bag just after the throw’s arrival, but were inconclusive on whether Robichaux and Hudson had made contact.
Robichaux did not coach the Sunday finale of the Texas State series, sat out both of the Cajuns’ mid-week games against Southeastern Louisiana and could not coach Friday’s Arkansas State series opener in his four-game suspension. He is scheduled to return to coaching duties for Saturday’s middle game of that series.