Fargo - An assistant basketball coach at Chaminade, a small Catholic college in Hawaii, resigned after sending a text message to a player containing a racial slur.

A high school football coach in Michigan was fired amid allegations he used racial slurs to describe his team's opponents.

A high school girls basketball team in New York received a one-game suspension for chanting a racial slur.

These all occurred within the last month. The latest disturbing incident, of course, is the tweet sent last week by Ryan Spadola - the All-American wide receiver for the Lehigh football team that will play a quarterfinal playoff game today in the Fargodome against North Dakota State.

Spadola will not be playing. He was suspended for retweeting a message - that like the aforementioned incidents - used the dreaded N-word.

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Lehigh school officials described it as a "repugnant racial reference" to describe players at Towson - the team Lehigh beat in last week's playoff game.

The NCAA, whose championship committee handed down the suspension, described it as "racially insensitive characterizations that will not be tolerated."

The NCAA's message, one that is somewhat unprecedented, should be loud and clear to college athletes: Use extreme caution when tweeting, which - in this era of social media - is like shouting your thoughts over the microphone for all the world to hear.

There's a part of me that feels sorry for Spadola, who apologized in front of his teammates. Can you imagine how agonizing that confession was: pleading for forgiveness from his teammates, knowing his absence could jeopardize the team's playoff run.

But Spadola is an accomplished student attending a highly regarded academic institution. He should've been smarter when he saw the racially insensitive tweet he received from a high school friend.

"I didn't stop to think about how this could be offensive," Spadola wrote in an apology released Thursday.

Before all this happened, when you googled "Ryan Spadola," you discovered some mind-boggling numbers - like 96 catches for 1,614 yards, which ranks third among receivers in all of college football. You found out he set almost every sprinting record for his high school track team in Howell, N.J.

You learned that he has been highly motivated by his father, who passed away when he was a high school sophomore.

Now, because he hit the retweet button without considering the consequences, Spadola has put Lehigh in an even tougher spot. Playing before 19,000 Fargodome fans would have been difficult enough.

Now, when you google "Ryan Spadola," you find headlines like: "Lehigh star receiver suspended for playoff game" or "Spadola suspension is harsh lesson for all."

A lesson that nothing goes unnoticed in this day and age of social media.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com