Assault at UH game alleged by Star-Advertiser photographer
A Honolulu Star-Advertiser photographer said he was assaulted at last week’s University of Hawaii football game and suffered injuries after being shoved by the head coach and then knocked to the ground by a UH employee.
The attacks were confirmed by others, who spoke off the record.
The assault took place toward the end of last Saturday’s game against San Diego State, according to the photographer, Jamm Aquino. Coach Nick Rolovich charged Aquino, swearing at him, and made contact. The UH employee then shoved Aquino to the ground, he said, leaving him with a concussion, a bloody nose and split lower lip as he fell on his camera, and a sore shoulder. A camera lens also was damaged.
After the game, Aquino waited near San Diego State coach Rocky Long to get a photo of the two head coaches shaking hands. As Rolovich approached, he saw Aquino, pointed at him and again began swearing at him, Aquino said.
Aquino has been shooting UH football for 15 seasons and never had an issue with any member of the football team or staff or anyone with the UH athletic department before these encounters. An Associated Press photographer next to Aquino also was shoved.
San Diego State had missed a potential tying field goal with two seconds left, and the UH coaches and players, thinking the game was over, began rushing to midfield to celebrate. Aquino trailed them to get celebratory shots. But the game had not ended and everyone but the players in the game stayed on the field.
It was during the retreat from the field that Aquino said he was accosted. While UH media guidelines state the media are not allowed on the field, Aquino and other photographers have many times gone onto the field after a game to record victory celebrations, without any objections.
“Our photographers are representing our readers and deserve to be treated as professionals,” said Frank Bridgewater, editor of the Star-Advertiser. “Swearing at and, worse, physically assaulting them, will not be tolerated. We will take whatever steps are needed to protect our photographers’ rights and to ensure that those who abuse them are called out.”
The university issued a statement Thursday night regarding Saturday’s incident:
“We are disappointed that a Star-Advertiser photographer violated sideline protocol by entering the field of play Saturday night.
“Coach Rolovich acknowledges that he came into physical contact with the photographer as he was attempting to clear the field to avoid being penalized because, with two seconds left on the clock, the game was not over.
“Coach Rolovich regrets the situation occurred. He contacted the photographer late Saturday night and apologized.
“The university is addressing the situation with Coach Rolovich regarding the matter and will have no further comment.”