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Texas coach Mike White ejected, apologizes for obscene gesture

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On a day he would like to forget for more than one reason, Texas coach Mike White made an unfortunately memorable exit from Friday’s Big 12 semifinal against Oklahoma State. 

White was ejected in the second inning of the game after sarcastically clapping at an umpire following a dispute involving a call overturned after replay review. As he exited the playing field into the Texas dugout, he turned back toward the field and made an obscene gesture. 

Texas ultimately lost 6-1 and was eliminated from the tournament. 

“I would like to apologize to everyone involved including the Big 12 Conference, Oklahoma State, my softball team and all Texas fans for my actions after being ejected,” White said in a statement. “Out of frustration I did something while leaving the field of play that I regret, and I hope that my apology will be accepted for my uncharacteristic indiscretion. I know that I have embarrassed the University of Texas, the Texas softball program and my athletic director Chris Del Conte, who have placed trust in me to lead this team in an honorable way. 

“Today was certainly not the right way to conduct oneself during softball competition. I am an intense competitor by nature, and in the heat of the moment I made a rash decision which I truly regret.”

The controversy stemmed from the final two plays in the bottom of the first inning. 

With one out and runners on first and third, Oklahoma State’s Miranda Elish hit a ball back to Texas pitcher Hailey Dolcini. Dolcini caught the runner at third base, Chelsea Alexander, in a rundown that ended with Texas catcher Mary Iakopo tagging Alexander out at the plate for the apparent second out.

Oklahoma State initiated a video review and umpires reversed the call – ruling Iakopo obstructed Alexander’s path to the plate and counting the run. 

With runners now on second and third base and one out, Oklahoma State’s next batter flew out to center field. Apparently losing track of the outs, the runner on second base failed to tag up. After initially throwing home in a failed attempt to prevent the lead runner from scoring the game’s second run, the Longhorns threw the ball to second base to double Elish off the base for the third out. 

Umpires initially ruled the second run didn’t count. Umpired again went to a video review and again overturned their initial decision and counted the run – which crossed home plate before the final out of the inning was recorded. 

The second reversal drew a more vehement protest from White, who appeared particularly upset with third base umpire Naomi Erdahl toward the end of his discussions. 

Walking to the third base coaching box to begin the top of the second inning, White then clapped in an obviously sarcastic manner in Erdahl’s direction. The umpire immediately ejected him. 

As he walked to his dugout on the other side of the field, White appeared to first respond to jeers from the crowd along the third base line, largely composed of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State fans, before gesturing toward his own team’s fans behind the Texas dugout to get up. 

Finally, as he neared the top step of the dugout, White turned and made the obscene gesture in the direction of the field and Erdahl. 

Following the game, the Big 12 issued a public reprimand. White then issued an additional statement. 

“I fully accept responsibility for the reprimand the Big 12 Conference issued for my actions in our game against Oklahoma State,” White said. “As I said after the game, they were unacceptable, regrettable and reflected poorly on the Big 12 Conference, The University of Texas, my softball team and me personally. In addition to that statement, I also want to publicly apologize to the umpiring crew, that was calling the game, and specifically umpire Naomi [E]rdahl. My actions were not in accordance with those of a Head Coach who has the responsibility to conduct himself in a professional manner at all times.”

Assistant coach Steve Singleton took over for White in the third base box for the remainder of the game. 

A renowned former men’s softball pitcher, White is in his fourth season at Texas. Previously, he served as Oregon’s head coach for eight seasons. White’s teams at both Oregon and Texas have never failed to reach at least an NCAA super regional.

Texas dropped to 38-17-1 with Friday’s defeat and will await word on whether it earned the right to host an NCAA regional as one of 16 national seeds.

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