CRAWFORD | NCAA postseason game suspensions: Jeff Walz 1, Bob Knight 0
Louisville women's coach Jeff Walz got a one-game NCAA Tournament suspension for criticism of officiating during his team's Final Four loss to Mississippi State.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I just want to make sure my scorecard is correct when it comes to postseason game suspensions handed out by the NCAA for things said in anger during NCAA Tournament games.
Jeff Walz 1, Bob Knight 0.
The NCAA women’s basketball committee has reprimanded Walz and suspended him for his next NCAA Tournament game because of comments he made that apparently offended the sensibilities of some committee members during Louisville’s NCAA Final Four overtime loss to Mississippi State.
And, let’s face facts, whatever Walz said, I’m sure it qualified as offensive. I’ve sat near his bench in regular-season games. I can only imagine his state when a group of supposedly professional NCAA officials watched Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan hip-check Myisha Hines-Allen on a layup attempt at the end of regulation without making a call.
By the time Walz reached the locker room after the game, he acknowledged that you’re never going to get the call in that situation. But during the overtime period, he must not have been as understanding with women’s basketball committee members sitting nearby. I can only imagine.
So I get it. They wanted to register their disapproval, and after disciplining him for a similar incident in 2011 (when he kicked a scorer's table at Gonzaga), they wanted to “apply a stronger penalty.” And I’m sure they were already rankled by his criticism of the committee earlier in the tournament for its timing of his team’s tournament games, being made to play the late game on a Friday night, then at noon on Sunday.
The NCAA does what it wants. Fine. Here’s my question: What changed?
Knight once verbally assaulted an NCAA Tournament moderator in public. And it wasn’t like that was his first incident. According to a UPI report from the scene in Boise, Idaho, it was at least the 23rd reported in the coaches’ career, including throwing a chair across a court a decade earlier (for which he got a one-game suspension, just like Walz, but that one came from the Big Ten Conference, and wasn’t for a tournament game).
The NCAA, on Knight, during his whole 42-year career, never stepped in once with a suspension to moderate his behavior toward game or conference or NCAA officials. And it had plenty of chances (and reasons) to do so.
But Jeff Walz becomes a Potty Mouth Poster Child?
In fact, the NCAA, while it cares passionately that a coach not say anything ugly to its own employees sitting nearby, has shown surprisingly little interest in doing something when it learns that dozens of women were sexually assaulted and their complaints mismanaged at a major NCAA institution.
Likewise, the NCAA was hands off when it learned that its 2005 men’s basketball national championship team had players taking a total of 26 “paper classes” in the spring semester during which it made its championship run, and that 10 of the 15 players in the championship team photo were majoring in the department where bogus classes were offered.
Those things elicited no sanction from the governing body of college sports, despite going on for more than a decade.
Apparently, widespread sexual abuse isn’t enough to spring the NCAA into action, but say something nasty to a committee representative courtside after a bad call in a Final Four game and you’re going to ride the profanity pine within 60 days.
Nice work, folks. You’ve made the game a safer place for everyone.
Two things I am not doing here. I’m not blaming Louisville’s Final Four loss solely on officiating. Yes there were bad calls. But those can be overcome. The refs undoubtedly missed calls to benefit Louisville, too, though McCowan, as physical as she was, picking up just one foul in the whole game strains credulity.
And second, I'm not defending Walz’s statements, as much as Louisville fans will back him up — and probably would say worse to an NCAA official themselves if given the opportunity.
Walz himself acknowledged that, “I used some inappropriate language as I expressed my frustration toward the scorer’s table about the officiating. I realize that these comments are not acceptable, did not represent the University of Louisville in the best light, and I apologize for my actions. I will be more mindful in expressing my emotions going forward.”
I do hope he uses caution. Walz is a brilliant strategist, a great motivator and (most importantly) a really good interview.
But his ability to use the language to his benefit also can work to his detriment. In this day and age, shooting from the hip can be dangerous. The bite in his invective could get him into more trouble than NCAA traffic tickets one day, and I’d hate to see that happen.
I watch a lot of basketball. Coaches all over the country are going crazy over far less than what set Walz off. It just seems to me that the NCAA has more pressing matters. I can accept that Walz deserved reprimand for what he said. I can’t accept that this incident deserved a stronger response from the NCAA than decades-long abuses elsewhere, or more serious problems all over the college game.
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