Posted: Nov 23, 2012 1:10 PM
Updated: Nov 23, 2012 1:14 PM
Morehead State Director Athletics Brian Hutchinson on Friday suspended first-year head basketball coach Sean Woods for one game following a confrontation Woods had with Eagles' point guard Devon Atkinson during Wednesday's 81-70 loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
Atkinson fouled out with 5:51 remaining, and an agitated Woods shouted at the senior as he walked toward the bench. The coach then appeared to shove Atkinson in the back, pushing him forward, and continued yelling at him during the timeout.
A statement released by Hutchinson Friday read, in part, ""On Wednesday night, Morehead State took on the University of Kentucky in a hotly-contested and emotionally-charged contest at Rupp Arena. A lot was on the line for our team and they executed an aggressive, exciting style of play, one that our fans have witnessed throughout the initial stages of this season.
"We recognize that the young men in our basketball program are students first and athletes second. 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. 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."
Woods, who led Mississippi Valley State to last year's NCAA tournament before arriving at Morehead State, said he wants his team to reflect his intense personality. And he was especially animated while facing his alma mater - which has the former point guard's jersey hanging from the rafters at Rupp Arena.
For his part, Woods also released a statement Friday, saying, "My behavior during Wednesday night's game was inappropriate and unacceptable. 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."
Woods rarely stood still during the game, pacing the sidelines and getting in Eagles players' faces. Morehead State responded with a physical game that the Eagles held the lead against Kentucky in both halves.
It also resulted in 32 personal fouls that helped the Wildcats rally to win.
"How did they look tonight? They look just like me, right?" Woods said. "They see me every day and that's how we're going to be every day. We're going to fight. ...
"Every day we step out in practice and in games, we have got to have a chip on our shoulders that we have something to prove."
But Woods appeared to have crossed the line against Kentucky.
The game ended with his second intense sideline encounter with a player this season. During a 67-45 loss at Maryland on Nov. 12, Woods was seen yelling in the face of Chad Posthumus while the junior center was sitting on the bench.
Morehead State players seemed unaffected by their coach's behavior.
"It doesn't make us uncomfortable," junior forward Drew Kelly said. "We can handle it and it makes us better."
Associate Head Coach Dylan Howard will lead the Eagles in their Monday night game against Norfolk State.
Associated Press Wire Services Contributed To This Story.