Northern Illinois prolonged freshman linebacker Jamaal Bass’ suspension after learning two band members he hit while entering the field before a Nov. 1 game at Toledo received concussions, athletics director Jeff Compher told the Daily Chronicle on Sunday night.
Compher said Toledo officials initially told him the band members were fine, which led to the original one-game suspension Bass served Tuesday at Bowling Green. He only later found out about the injuries and, after speaking with Bass, decided to extend the suspension to include Tuesday’s game against Ball State and the regular-season finale Nov. 25 against Eastern Michigan.
“Once we went back and learned everything and talked to Jamaal and looked at the situation, we felt like that was appropriate,” Compher said. “It was regrettable, but something we felt like we needed to do.”
Freshman linebacker Michael Santacaterina started in Bass’ place at Bowling Green and played well, tying for third on the team with five tackles. Coach Dave Doeren said last week Bass’ absence changes little with NIU’s defensive scheme.
“We’ve played so much nickel where [defensive back] Jimmie Ward is on the field, so we’re in a two-linebacker defense half the game anyway,” said Doeren, who called Ward the team’s “third linebacker” in nickel situations. “So it hurts, obviously, but Jamaal didn’t play a lot [Tuesday] because we were in nickel the whole game. So it hurts us, but we’ll be OK. You know, the next man in, and those guys will step up and play well.”