Sources call meeting 'tough' on family

Updated: February 28, 2005, 12:25 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Suspended Temple coach John Chaney met with the family of injured Saint Joseph's forward John Bryant on Sunday on the Hawks' campus and apologized for ordering hard fouls that resulted in Bryant breaking his arm last week.

According to multiple sources, the meeting was "very tough" for Bryant's family, which, like Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli, is angered by Chaney's actions. The Hall of Fame coach spoke to Bryant on the phone Friday before Saint Joseph's left for its game Saturday at Rhode Island and offered to pay Bryant's medical bills; student-athletes' medical bills are covered by their universities.

The fallout from the incident appears far from over and the rift between Temple and Saint Joseph's might be widening.

Bryant, a senior, will not play for the Hawks again. Nehemiah Ingram, the Temple senior forward who was sent into Tuesday's game at Temple to be Chaney's "goon," fouled out in four minutes. Ingram was not suspended for his actions after the Atlantic 10 determined he was simply following his coach's orders. Ingram played six minutes against Massachusetts on Saturday.

Chaney suspended himself for one game, but Temple added two more games to the suspension Friday once Bryant's MRI results were known. Chaney is scheduled to return to the bench for the Atlantic 10 tournament next week after the Owls finish their regular season. Assistant Dan Leibovitz, who coached the Owls to a victory over UMass, also will coach Temple at Rhode Island on Wednesday and against La Salle on Saturday.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Bryants and Saint Joseph's administrators would convene by phone Monday to discuss a possible next step. Saint Joseph's has discouraged anyone from the university from talking about the incident outside of issuing a statement twice saying that a line had been crossed. Saint Joseph's took issue with Chaney accusing the Hawks of setting illegal screens.

A number of attorneys have emailed and called Saint Joseph's and the Bryant family asking if they want to file a lawsuit, either a conspiracy to commit assault and/or possible civil action. But Saint Joseph's and the Bryant family haven't made up their mind as to whether to proceed with any legal action.

Sources said Saint Joseph's wants the A-10 to take additional action to avoid a potentially troubling situation in the conference tournament.

The Hawks do not want to play the Owls with Chaney on the bench and Ingram in the lineup. The bracket for the A-10 tournament will be known this weekend. Saint Joseph's clinched the top spot in the A-10 East, while Temple is the second seed. The only way the two would meet would be in the final in Cincinnati on March 12. But sources said Saint Joseph's wants the conference to decide on whether Chaney, and/or Ingram, would be allowed to coach and play against the Hawks before the teams get to Cincinnati for the tournament.

In addition to the possibility of facing Temple in the A-10 tournament, Saint Joseph's is also annoyed that Chaney and Ingram would be at the pre-conference tournament banquet and the awkwardness that would likely ensue.

Leibovitz replaced Chaney on the A-10 conference call Monday and said that Chaney has been at practice every day since his suspension was announced last week.

He said the practices were normal with the beginning about fundamentals and then Chaney lecturing in the latter half of the practice so that it was "business as usual." Leibovitz said Chaney wouldn't be making the trip to Rhode Island on Tuesday for Wednesday's game.

"But we'll be in constant communication with coach," Leibovitz said. "It's a weird, sad feeling but we'll make the best of a tough spot."

Leibovitz said Chaney is "hurting inside. I can't tell you how many times he said he did the wrong thing. He's a basketball coach through and through and this really hurt. We all feel bad about what happened and that John Bryant is injured. There is an honor among athletes and no one wants them to be injured."

When it was Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli's turn to talk on the A-10 conference call, Martelli quipped that "in light of what went on last week, I respectfully decline to participate on the conference call. I apologize."

Saint Joseph's is expected to make a formal statement sometime this week prior to the A-10 tournament next week in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, Memphis coach John Calipari threw himself into the fray Saturday on College GameDay.

Calipari said because Chaney was suspended by Temple for a game for going after him in 1994 -- Chaney threatened then-UMass coach Calipari during a postgame news conference -- then the punishments should be of equal length. Calipari said because the incident was with "fair-haired Phil in Philly and it was Saint Joe's and they're losing, he's out. That's my problem with it, I think it's hypocritical.

"We know what John Chaney is. He coaches the right way, he does things the right way, he gets his kids into the pros, and he's a little bit crazy. He's been crazy."

Leibovitz said on ESPN Radio's College Hoops Today on Sunday he had not heard any talk of Chaney being forced to resign or facing dismissal.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers men's college basketball for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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