911: Relative says Anthony tried to 'hurt herself'

Updated: February 2, 2005, 5:58 PM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hours after storming the court and firing her coach, Nashville Rhythm co-owner Sally Anthony was rushed to a hospital following a 911 call by a relative who said she had tried to "hurt herself."

A relative called 911 about 6 a.m. Sunday to report that Anthony was hurting herself, according to a 911 tape obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

"My sister-in-law is in her apartment right now, and she has taken some pills and mixed it with alcohol and taken scissors and cut up her arms," said the caller, who identified herself as Susan.

Hours earlier, Anthony marched onto the court in the third quarter of the Rhythm's 110-109 victory over Kansas City and demanded that coach Ashley McElhiney bench a player and then told the coach she was fired. Security guards had to escort Anthony off the court.

Anthony is one of three owners of Nashville's American Basketball Association franchise, which made McElhiney the first female coach of a men's professional team last May.

Anthony, an aspiring pop singer, and her husband and Rhythm co-owner Tony Bucher, did not respond to e-mail and fax messages seeking comment Tuesday.

The 911 caller told a dispatcher that Anthony had taken the anti-depressant Xanax, and was passing out every few seconds. The caller also told the dispatcher that her sister-in-law could become violent.

The dispatcher asked the caller if the she thought it was a suicide attempt.

The caller said, "I don't know if she really meant to kill herself. She definitely meant to hurt herself."

The 30-year-old Anthony was taken by ambulance to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she was treated for cuts on her arm and released Sunday. She was quoted in different reports as saying she fell and also that she was bitten by a dog.

The woman who called 911 did not immediately return a telephone message from the AP on Tuesday. A woman who identified herself as Anthony's mother told The Tennessean on Monday that it was "a total lie" to suggest that her daughter mixed pills with alcohol and tried to cut herself.

In the only official word from the team in the three days since the bizarre episode, the Rhythm owners issued a statement Tuesday apologizing to McElhiney.

"The ownership of the Nashville Rhythm would like to apologize to Ashley McElhiney, our fans, Lipscomb University, the city of Nashville, and our sponsors for the incident," the statement said.

The team said it was reviewing the incident and hoped to have a decision "on a course of action as soon as possible."

McElhiney, who has led the Rhythm to an 18-7 record, declined to comment to the AP Tuesday.

Her agent said in a statement that McElhiney has not yet reached an agreement with Rhythm management as to whether she will continue as the Rhythm's head coach for the remainder of the season.

The team's two-sentence release didn't fully satisfy ABA co-founder and chairman Joe Newman, who on Tuesday named McElhiney as an assistant coach for the league's All-Star game Feb. 14 in Las Vegas.

Newman said the league won't step into a personnel issue, even though he has been inundated with complaints. But he is ordering the league and the team to donate basketballs to youth leagues in the city of Nashville.

He said the Rhythm was an excellent ABA franchise that has been embarrassed by one of its owners.

"She's gotten far more negative publicity for a person who's a recording artist in Nashville than she should get in a lifetime. She's gotten every bit that she deserved and more for the outburst," Newman said.

Management met with Rhythm players Monday night to discuss the situation, and the players were waiting for a final decision.

"We're confident things are going to be fine," center Adam Sonn said.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press