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Iowa coaches suspended after punishing player for tweet

Mihalovich declined Wednesday to discuss what led to his suspension and that of assistants Kevin Johnston and Larry Gamblin.

Des Moines Public Schools spokesman Phillip Roeder said an investigation conducted by the school’s human resources staff is ongoing.

At the center of the investigation is former Lincoln sophomore player Dante Campero, who is now enrolled at Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines), according to his mother’s Facebook page.

Campero was apparently disciplined by the coaches for a negative comment he made about the Lincoln varsity team on Twitter.

On Friday, while No. 2 Ankeny defeated the Railsplitters 56-27, the account listed with Campero’s name tweeted: “That’s why I don’t go to lincoln game, because they get (expletive) destroyed by anyone whose half decent.”

The tweet was later deleted and Campero posted a series of messages that included an apology and trepidation for what he might face in practice.

“Sorry if I offended anyone on the Lincoln varsity team,” a message posted at 8:40 a.m. Saturday read. ” I know you guys work hard and put in the effort every day. It was a stupid comment.”

“And I deserve every punishment I receive.”

On Sunday morning, a message from Campero’s account read: “I’m gonna have to run so much tomorrow. I deserve it tho.”

It was unclear Wednesday how long or how far Campero had to run in practice after criticizing his teammates, but one Lincoln player said the punishment was nothing out of the ordinary.

“It was one of the basic things we do if we get out of line,” said senior offensive lineman Brendon Bolokor. “It was nothing too bad. (Campero) quit. The coaches didn’t tell him to quit, he quit on his own. That’s all I want to say.”

Bolokor said he thinks Mihalovich is getting a raw deal for Campero’s punishment.

Mihalovich released a 156-word statement that said his suspension was “unexpected and disappointing.” He also wrote “it would be inappropriate to make additional comments at this time.”

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“What I can tell you is that for 12 years I have devoted my life’s work to building a proud and strong football program at Lincoln,” he wrote. “I am known to be a tough but fair coach when there is an infraction or when athletes do not follow team rules.

“I will cooperate fully with the district and Lincoln High School officials and look forward to resolving this matter and returning to Lincoln to finish out a strong season.”

Mihalovich has compiled a 57-51 record at Lincoln. The Railsplitters have reached the state playoffs in six of the last seven seasons.

Lincoln started the season 0-2 after losing to Johnston and Ankeny, a pair of teams that started the season in the top 10 in Class 4-A.

Defensive coordinator Joe Bianchi has been named interim coach for the Railsplitters, who play host to Roosevelt Friday night.

When contacted Wednesday evening, Campero handed the phone off to a woman who identified herself as his mother.

“I cannot talk right now,” she said. “We have legal counsel and you have to talk to them.

Gary Dickey, a Campero family spokesperson, released a statement that said Campero was dismissed from the team when he said he couldn’t run any longer. Dickey’s statement added the family decided that Campero should transfer after the family began receiving threats to his safety.

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