Contents of the “Letter of Apology” Sent to Parents on the Decision to Abolish the Football Team at Nihon University Involving Marijuana Usage | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Contents of the “Letter of Apology” Sent to Parents on the Decision to Abolish the Football Team at Nihon University Involving Marijuana Usage

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At a press conference held on August 8, the university stated, “We interviewed 121 members of the club and found no evidence of marijuana use,” (President Takeo Sakai) but since then, users have been uncovered one after another.

On December 4, Nihon University held a press conference in Tokyo to explain the university’s response to the drug problem involving members of the American football team (nicknamed “Phoenix”). Chancellor Mariko Hayashi (69) stated that the issue of the abolition of the club, which has been the focus of discussion, “is not a conclusion, but a policy,” as the Board of Trustees is still deliberating the issue.

“The first trial of Shigefumi Kitabatake, 21, the first defendant to be arrested, was held on January 1, and Kitabatake said, “I thought the vice president would cover it up. I was a little relieved. I thought he had that much power.” The defense pointed out, “The defendant was deprived of the opportunity to turn himself in.” I still think the sloppy judgment and handling by the university, the team, and the adults is a big part of it.”

The decision by the university to abolish the football team on March 28 has been met with disbelief from students, parents, and other concerned parties.

On July 6, Vice President Yasuhiro Sawada (59) and others found plant fragments in the football team dormitory, and 12 days later consulted the police. The police investigation turned up pills containing dried marijuana and methamphetamine ingredients, and the defendant Kitabatake was arrested. Later, based on testimony by Kitabatake, two others were arrested and one was sent to prosecution.

The team has refrained from activities since the summer. The Kanto Student Federation has suspended the team for the time being, citing four concerns, including “We cannot guarantee that everyone involved in the club other than the arrested students are innocent, the team will not be able to compete in the fall league, and the fourth-year students will retire from active duty,” Although they could not be active, the new team had been meeting daily, mainly with third-year students, to discuss rebuilding the team. Then, in late November, a letter of apology arrived from Nihon University addressed to the parents of the current students.

The letter said, “On the 27th of this month, we received a letter from Nichi-Dai in the mail that said, ‘We will make every effort to deal with the situation so that your children’s student life will not be affected. My child is not in an athletic club, but the kids in the football team are also students, right? Wouldn’t those kids be affected if the club was abolished?” (Parent of a student at Nihon University)

The “Letter of Apology Regarding the Drug Incident at the University’s American Football Club” was sent to the parents of the football team members in response to the October 30 investigation report by the third-party committee.

It was on the night of the 28th, the day after the parents received the letter, that they received the news that the university had decided to abolish the football team.

In fact, as of October 9, the university had a policy of revitalizing the football team. As mentioned above, the members of the new team had been meeting every night and had continued their efforts to revitalize the team. The fact that the university decided to abolish the team despite this apology can be taken as a sign that the university not only betrayed them, but also cut them off as students.

What should the current members of the football team, who have been working with a strong belief that they will become the best in Japan, aim for in the rest of their university life? Furthermore, high school students who were planning to go on to higher education next year after being called upon to “aim for the No. 1 position in Japan at Phoenix” must be anxious and angry at the moment.

High school students have been playing in the Fall Tournament until last month, and the Christmas Bowl, which will decide the top high school in Japan, will be held on December 24. Even if they change to the same football level as Phoenix now, they will have to take the college entrance test to challenge them, and there is not enough time for that. Will he choose a university for football even if he has to drop the level of the football team, or will he give up football and look for a higher education? The future is completely uncertain. The chancellor, president, and other adults can be punished later on their own. The first priority should be to show the children the way forward. An alumnus of the Nihon University football team had this to say.

“The OB association’s first priority was to save the players who earnestly aimed to become the best in Japan. However, I think it is a problem that the four concerns pointed out by the Kanto Football Federation have not been cleared. However, we were trying to solve and clear the problems that the federation was concerned about while at the same time saving the remaining students and players. The decision to close the club was very shocking in such a situation. But the alumni association doesn’t have the authority to overturn it.”

Director Toshihide Nakamura was not present at this press conference either. There has never been a press conference by the team’s director or manager, and many have questioned the fact that none of the team’s “adults” appeared. Students, parents, and other concerned parties are growing increasingly distrustful of the university.

“Nakamura never participates in the university’s athletic department coaches’ meetings, perhaps out of disrespect, and was thought to be an upwardly mobile person like former coach Masato Uchida (68). But the directors of the other athletic departments were talking about not abolishing the club. So with the policy of abolishing the club, why wouldn’t he just leave? Some people are asking, “Why doesn’t he leave?” However, I also heard that “Director Nakamura appealed to the university to hold a press conference himself, but they wouldn’t allow him to do so.””(The above-mentioned football official) 

This press conference has only increased the anxiety and distrust of current and prospective students, has it not? We hope that the adults at the university and on the team will put aside their own self-preservation and concentrate on supporting the students.

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An “apology” letter was reportedly sent to the parents of one student on November 27. The letter was also sent to the parents of a member of the football team. What will happen to the student life of the club members who had nothing to do with marijuana?
The football team’s dormitory is currently closed (photo taken in August).
Kitabatake was arrested on August 5. This was one month after marijuana fragments and drugs were found in the dormitory.
President Sakai (left) and Vice President Sawada (right) announced their resignations.
Former Chancellor Hidetoshi Tanaka, known as the “Don of Nihon University,” resigned as chancellor in 2021 after being arrested for tax evasion. Reforms were expected under the leadership of new Chancellor Osamu Hayashi.
  • PHOTO Shinji Hasuo

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