Two days after a heated sideline exchange between Morehead State coach Sean Woods and his starting point guard drew national criticism, the school has made it clear such behavior will not be tolerated.
Morehead State released a statement Friday announcing it has suspended Woods for Monday's game against Norfolk State.
"It is our expectation that our coaches are first teachers, who reflect the core values of the university which includes valuing the individual and treating people with respect," athletic director Brian Hutchinson said. "Near the end of the game, Coach Woods' interaction with one of our student-athletes fell short of that value and was unacceptable.
"We believe Coach Woods, while remorseful, is not above reproach. Therefore, he will be suspended for Monday night's game against Norfolk State. This will allow Coach Woods to consider his action and behavior, and allow him time to contemplate the appropriate way to conduct himself with his players and on the sideline."
The incident took place with five minutes left in the second half of Morehead State's 81-70 loss to Kentucky when point guard Devon Akinson fouled out on a reach-in foul and did not return to the bench as quickly as Woods wanted.
Woods walked onto the court to scream at his point guard, shoved him in the back toward his seat on the bench and got nose-to-nose with Atkinson until an assistant coach got between them. The separation didn't last long because the Morehead State coach again got in the senior's face once he took a seat on the bench, leaving Atkinson near tears and the broadcast crew calling the game silent.
[Related: See coach Sean Woods berate player]
Tough love from a coach is certainly nothing new in college basketball, but Woods crossed the line losing his cool at a player and putting his hands on him. Morehead State got it right sending its first-year coach a message with a one-game penalty but not overreacting to public and media backlash with a longer suspension.
In a statement also released Friday, Woods acknowledged he made a mistake and accepted his punishment.
"My behavior during Wednesday night's game was inappropriate and unacceptable," Woods said. "I am truly sorry.
"I value the opportunity I have been given as the head men's basketball coach at Morehead State. I am passionate about the young men on our team and the opportunities we have together. I care for them deeply. I can assure our student-athletes, university community, alumni and fans that anything approaching this type of situation will not happen again."
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