Davis suspended for one game

Davis suspended for one game

Coach will sit out tonight’s match-up at Ball State

By Stan Sutton, Herald-Times Sports Editor

December 31, 2002

An Indiana University recommendation that men’s head basketball coach Mike Davis be suspended for one game was accepted Monday by the Big Ten Conference.

Davis also was publicly reprimanded and ordered to write letters of apology to the officials who worked the IU-University of Kentucky game in Louisville Dec. 21.

The third-year IU coach rushed onto the court in the closing seconds of the game, violating league policy, to protest a call by referee Bert Smith.

Davis charged at Smith, berating the referee in a face-to-face confrontation, and subsequently was issued two technical fouls and ejected from the game.

Davis will sit out tonight’s 6 o’clock game against Ball State.

After two practices Monday, he accompanied the Hoosiers to Muncie and will be with the team during today’s preparation. Then, accompanied by his son Mike Jr., the coach will return to Indianapolis, where he told interim athletics director Terry Clapacs he plans to attend church.

“He said, ‘That’s where I need to be,'” Clapacs said. “I also expect him to watch the ballgame (on television).”

Two days after the game in Louisville, the Big Ten contacted Clapacs and indicated its belief that a “possible violation of the Big Ten rules” had occurred. Clapacs said the league cited “crowd control” as a possible violation.

“My response was to take issue with the specific rule that was cited,” Clapacs said. “I felt that if there was a rule broken, it had more to do with the way the coach and official interaction took place.”

IU responded to the conference letter by recommending the discipline that is now being imposed. Clapacs said he was uncertain if the school would have taken such measures without the conference intervening.

But he said, “We had concerns, too, about what happened. We have an athletic code of conduct that was adopted a couple of years ago that governs behavior on the part of coaches and student athletes.”

The Big Ten contacted Clapacs at about noon Monday and said the penalties recommended by the university were satisfactory. Clapacs said he believes the league’s decision was made by a panel that included commissioner Jim Delany.

Davis spoke at a quickly called news conference, but declined to take questions. He has apologized repeatedly since the incident and continued to do so.

“I’m really embarrassed by it,” he said. “If you do something wrong, there’s a punishment and a process that you have to receive.”

Davis said he thinks the lingering doubts about his immediate future cast a pall recently over his team, which was upset Saturday at Temple University.

“We do have a very good basketball team, and we have lost our intensity over the past couple of weeks,” he said. “Today was the best practice we’ve had in a month.”

IU assistant coach John Treloar took issue with Davis’ claim that he had cost the Hoosiers a victory at Temple.

“I have to be man enough to accept the responsibility,” Davis said. “I didn’t coach that game with any passion or fire, and my team played that way.”

Clapacs said he thinks the Big Ten acted fairly, while adding, “I don’t know if I would have taken the exact same course.”

Some felt Davis would be used as a scapegoat for the conference’s failure to take action when Penn State football coach Joe Paterno chased down an official and grabbed him after a difficult loss.

“The Big Ten has been under recent pressure to deal more effectively with issues that have to do with security and crowd behavior,” Clapacs said.

The interim athletics director said Davis had no choice about which game to sit out.

“There was no option. It was the next game,” he said.

Clapacs insisted that Davis has the full support of his superiors at IU.

“He is exactly the guy we want coaching basketball at Indiana University,” he said. “He is exactly the image that we want. He’s a very competitive man. Like every good Hoosier does, he wants to beat Kentucky and he wants to beat Purdue.”

Davis hasn’t beaten Kentucky in three games since taking over for Bob Knight.

“His rivalry with Kentucky goes back to his playing days at Alabama and the rivalry that existed then between Alabama and Kentucky,” Clapacs said. “Then he comes to IU and, lo and behold, Kentucky is one of our key rivals.

“I know he wanted to win Saturday night down in Louisville very badly. That doesn’t exactly excuse the behavior, but I understand the behavior. Indiana University fully supports our coach.”

Said Davis: “Indiana is a great, great university. It’s way bigger than I am and I feel really bad about the embarrassment I caused. We have to move on and grow from it.”