From B.A.S.S. Communications
Nate Wellman, winner of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open
on Lake Erie last week, has been penalized for rules violations during
B.A.S.S. officials today released the following statement:
â€œBassmaster Elite Series angler Nate Wellman has been fined and placed
on a one-year probation due to violation of B.A.S.S. tournament rule
3(vii), which prohibits â€˜suggesting to another competitor that he violate these (B.A.S.S.) rules.’ After
an investigation, B.A.S.S. officials found that the outcome of the
tournament and the final results were in no way compromised and did not
result in changes to the final standings of the Bassmaster Northern Open
on Lake Erie. The fine monies will be donated to the Ohio B.A.S.S.
Federation Nation to support its conservation efforts.â€
The action centered on statements made by Wellman to his co-angler on
the final day of competition. Although Wellman said the statements were
made in jest, his co-angler reported to B.A.S.S. officials that
Wellman’s comments made him uncomfortable and were suggestive of a rules
â€œOur system of tournament angling, pairing a professional angler with a
co-angler or even another professional, has been tried and tested for
decades,” said Trip Weldon, B.A.S.S. tournament director. â€œIt’s a great
system, as this instance proves. Our co-angler did the right thing by
reporting it. He is to be commended. At this level, there isn’t room for
questions on the integrity of our anglers. And there certainly isn’t
room for suggestions or jokes that could do anything to break down that
integrity. That is why this action was taken.â€
Wellman, who was reached for comment Thursday, was apologetic.
â€œThere were some things said during that tournament that were
definitely taken the wrong way,â€ he said. â€œI was trying to lighten the
mood on the boat a little bit.
â€œThere were some things said that should never have been said. They
were … said, in part, because I was under an extremely stressful
situation, leading the tournament. It was wrong for me to have said them,
even in a joking manner.â€
Wellman added, â€œI want to apologize to my co-angler for that day, for
the situation that we were both put in. I know it was an uncomfortable
one for both of us. I cannot express how sorry I am that that happened.
I also want to apologize to B.A.S.S., the whole staff, everybody that
had to deal with the situation. None of us were in a good situation. I
can’t emphasize how bad I feel that everybody had to be a part of it.â€
Wellman was fined $2,500 for his remarks during that event and placed
on a one-year probation. During the course of the next year, any
infractions of any B.A.S.S. rules could result in harsher penalties.