A former senior official of Nihon University on Friday demanded the resignation of the university's chairman and board of directors over their handling of a scandal involving the school's American football team.

The university has been under fire since May, when one of its players made a flagrant late hit on an opposing player, sending him to hospital.

(Photo courtesy of Kwansei Gakuin University)

The school's head coach and an assistant coach have received lifetime bans for essentially ordering the player to commit a dangerous foul. The school fired both men on Monday, but its team was still ruled ineligible for league play this autumn because of the university's poor response to the controversy.

At a press conference held at the education ministry, Tomio Makino, a former deputy general manager of Nihon University, called on chairman Hidetoshi Tanaka and the board of directors to quit.

Referring to a series of other issues unrelated to the American football team, Makino said, "Things can't be dealt with because the governance is out of order."

Tanaka, who had avoided public appearances or statements since the incident, issued an apology earlier on Friday on the university's website.

"After deep reflection, I will return to the spirit of putting students first when managing this university," the statement said.

(Tomio Makino, 2nd from left, a former deputy general manager of Nihon University)

Tanaka apologized to Kwansei Gakuin University staff and their quarterback who was injured, and said he is "deeply sorry" to the Nihon University linebacker who was ordered to make the foul play.

He also apologized to the Kantoh Collegiate Football Association -- which oversees university competition in and around Tokyo -- and other American football officials.

The central issue was whether or not former head coach Masato Uchida and former assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue had ordered the dangerous play. The coaches denied doing so, saying the player misinterpreted their instructions.

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An investigation by the football association's disciplinary committee determined that the coaches had ordered the play that resulted in the suspension of Nihon University's team. The coaches are currently appealing their suspensions.

Nihon University's decision to dismiss the former coaches came after a third-party panel determined they had given instructions to players in a way that imposed a heavy burden on them, possibly constituting a form of power harassment.

The panel, headed by a former senior public prosecutor, also criticized the way the incident was handled by Tanaka, advising him to apologize and recommending the establishment of an outside party to govern sport teams at the university.

Both resigned their coaching roles in May in the wake of the incident, which stirred controversy nationwide despite American football being a minor sport in Japan.

(Former Nihon University American football head coach Masato Uchida)