Nov. 28, 2012 —
Morehead State University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Sean Woods was not present last night when the Eagles played host to Norfolk State.
The new coach was serving a one-game suspension for his courtside conduct during the MSU-UK game last week in Rupp Arena.
The Eagles lost to the Wildcats, 81-70, but gave an inspired performance that bodes well for this season as newcomers and returnees learn to play together as a team.
If MSU can play that well against the defending national champions, its intense, in-your-face style of play should make the Eagles competitive in their own conference.
As for Woods, it appeared to many watching the game on television that he got caught up in the heat of battle with 5:51 to play and simply lost his cool.
Devon Atkinson had fouled out at that point and Coach Woods reacted to something the player said or did coming off the court.
The video clip that played for the next two days on national television and the Internet showed Woods shoving Atkinson toward the bench and then grabbing him for a nose-to-nose confrontation with the coach obviously angry.
Just as it appeared the incident had run its course, the coach followed Atkinson to where he was seated on the bench and then proceeded to rip him for another minute or so.
It was ugly to watch and shocking to onlookers. Some fans at the arena texted friends that the player was left in tears.
Sports media organizations covering that game and college basketball apparently had little to write about that night and on Thankgiving Day because they made the Woods blowup the No. 1 national story.
MSU Athletics Director Brian Hutchinson put the word out on Thursday morning that Woods’ behavior would be reviewed for possible disciplinary action to be announced on Friday.
That was exactly the right move to make in the face of mounting criticism via website comments and e-mails and calls to MSU officials.
Hutchinson conferred with senior officials on campus on Thanksgiving Day.
He told the sports world on Friday about the suspension and spoke plainly about Woods’ conduct being “unacceptable”.
Woods said he had acted improperly and that he regretted the incident.
The days of Bobby Knight are long past in college athletics. Coaches either respect their players or face the consequences.
In our view, the University demonstrated that its promising new coach is worth saving and that it will not tolerate coaching misconduct.
We see that as two wins for the Eagles.