Coach apologizes for sending in 'goon' vs. St. Joe's

Updated: February 25, 2005, 11:58 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Temple coach John Chaney suspended himself Wednesday for one game and apologized for putting a player in against Saint Joseph's a day earlier for the sole purpose of rough play and quick fouls.

Chaney offered the self-imposed one-game suspension after meeting with Temple president David Adamany and athletic director Bill Bradshaw. He will be replaced on the bench by assistant Dan Leibovitz for Saturday's game against Massachusetts.

"I would like to apologize to Saint Joseph's University, its fans, student-athletes and head coach Phil Martelli for my reprehensible behavior during Tuesday night's game," Chaney said in a statement. "I spoke with coach Martelli today to voice my apology to him and his team."

Chaney said he was not surprised by reaction to Tuesday's home game.

"I'm either good or bad in some people's eyes," Chaney said in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There's no gray area. I apologized to the people that matter most."

Adamany also reacted to some Temple students spitting in the direction of St. Joe's players and cheerleaders. He said the first few rows of the student section at the Liacouras Center would be empty for Saturday's game as a reminder they should uphold the standards of good sportsmanship.

Upset by what he thought were illegal screens by Saint Joseph's that were not being called by the officials, Chaney turned to seldom-used 6-foot-8, 250-pound Nehemiah Ingram to "send a message."

Ingram started throwing his arms around and tossing elbows, once connecting hard to the chin of Hawks center Dwayne Jones, and had a hard foul on John Bryant that left him sprawled on the court for several minutes.

Ingram fouled out in four minutes, his average playing time for a game this season. He has played in 14 games, averaging 0.4 points and 0.9 rebounds.

Chaney said after the game he was going to send in a "goon."

"Ingram was not the only person I put in there," Chaney said Wednesday. "I put three or four players in there and were telling them to make hard fouls."

Chaney, called for a technical in the second half after berating the officials, said he never wanted his players to hurt anyone.

"I believe that I was certainly responsible and that I victimized my athletes by telling them to make hard fouls without telling them how a hard foul should be committed," he said.

Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno supported Chaney's decision to suspend himself.

"Coach Chaney's behavior was uncharacteristic of the way he runs his program and I expect that a similar occurrence will not happen again," Bruno said.

Chaney's only other career suspension came in 1994. Temple suspended the Hall of Famer for one game after he threatened to kill then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari at a postgame news conference.

Chaney complained on Monday during an Atlantic 10 conference call that the Hawks were guilty of setting illegal picks and warned he would send in a "goon," to protect the Owls (13-11, 9-4 Atlantic 10).

"My student-athletes are in no way responsible for my actions last night," said Chaney, 721-294 in 33 seasons.

Bryant complained of a sore right elbow on Wednesday and needed X-rays. He will have an MRI on Thursday and was listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against Rhode Island.

"I grew up watching Chaney, I still admire him, but I don't really understand the situation fully," Bryant said Wednesday. "It was just weird. It didn't really hit me until now. Last night, I was up all night. I couldn't sleep."

Normally mild-mannered Pat Carroll of the Hawks started jawing with Ingram during the game.

"He hit DJ a couple of times and then he hit me coming off a screen," Carroll said Wednesday. "I wasn't hoping for any fights to come out of this thing, but you have to stick up for your teammates."

Saint Joseph's clinched a share of its fifth straight Atlantic 10 title with the 63-56 victory.

"I accepted the apology ... there is nothing more that I can do," Martelli told ESPN Radio on Wednesday. "Listen, it's very disappointing because the welfare of the players is all of our responsibility and for whatever the reason last night they chose not to consider the welfare of my players."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press