Temple suspends Chaney for rest of regular season

Saturday, February 26th 2005, 11:43 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ John Chaney is paying a steep price for an irrational decision that could tarnish a 33-year Hall of Fame career.

Decades of goodwill by the Temple coach are close to being obscured after his premeditated plan of ordering rough play by one of his players backfired when a Saint Joseph's senior had his arm broken as a result.

Chaney has a history of outrageous conduct and comments _ remember, he once threatened to kill then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari during a postgame news conference _ but it was more often explained away as ``John being John,'' an intense and volatile competitor.

Not this time.

Chaney was suspended for the rest of the regular season by Temple on Friday for putting in a benchwarmer, who proceeded to foul out in 4 minutes against Saint Joseph's and broke an opponent's arm.

``I think my behavior is reprehensible and, as I've said 1,000 times, I take responsibility,'' Chaney said. ``If it's the judgment of the school to suspend me, I can accept the responsibility of my actions.''

Chaney suspended himself for one game Wednesday and apologized for his actions. But after Saint Joseph's forward John Bryant was diagnosed with a broken arm that will likely end his season, the coach's self-imposed punishment was deemed insufficient.

In a statement issued Saturday, Saint Joseph's said it was encouraged by Temple's decision to suspend Chaney and by the coach's show of remorse.

``Saint Joseph's University believes there is no place in college basketball for this type of behavior, and there is nothing in the way Saint Joseph's plays that is intended to cause harm to its opponents,'' the school said. ``Everyone involved must recognize that a line was crossed before and after Tuesday's game, and there must be continued monitoring of the situation to ensure that what happened to John Bryant is not repeated.''

Chaney will miss Temple's home game against Massachusetts on Saturday and road games against Rhode Island and La Salle, before returning for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

The 73-year-old said he hasn't decided how the suspension will affect his decision whether to return for another season.

``I've had a reputation for many years, I've done many things wrong and made a lot of mistakes,'' Chaney said. ``My name is a lightning rod. Right now, I'll just take inventory of myself.''

Chaney, angered by what he thought were illegal screens by Saint Joseph's, inserted seldom-used, 6-foot-8, 250-pound Nehemiah Ingram against the Hawks on Tuesday to ``send a message.'' Ingram fouled Bryant hard, sending him sprawling to the floor.

Chaney warned during an Atlantic 10 conference call on Monday that he would send in a ``goon'' if the screens weren't called.

Bryant, a sixth man for the Hawks, has probably played his last college game.

Chaney said he called Bryant on Friday morning to apologize and also said he planned to talk to his parents. Chaney also offered to pay for Bryant's medical bills.

``I feel very contrite about John Bryant,'' said Chaney, who has a 721-294 career record.

A Temple spokesman said no disciplinary action was taken against Ingram. Temple did not say if Chaney would still be paid.

Chaney has never backed away from a confrontation.

In January, Chaney used his time at a Philadelphia sports writers dinner to rail against President Bush and the war in Iraq. Chaney rambled on until he was nearly booed off the stage. He challenged one dissenter to meet him outside.

That echoed similar sentiments weeks earlier when Chaney scolded the people of Ohio, the state that helped Bush win the election with 20 electoral votes, saying, ``It's not the people I hate, it's what they did that I hate.''

Chaney's political sentiments seem tame compared to some his postgame comments, often filled with raspy expletives.

In a loss to Xavier last March, Chaney said if he had a baseball bat, he'd beat some of his big men.

``I'd kill them. That's how bad I am,'' Chaney said then. ``That's how vile I am.''

On the other hand, Chaney is also seen as father figure to the scores of players he's recruited from inner-city homes and poor schools. Chaney was never afraid to reach out to the underprivileged.

But after Tuesday's game, Chaney was at it again, defending his decision to send in Ingram to act as a ``goon'' and send a message.

Some of the coach's antics were laughed away as the Owls made regular appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Chaney, who won a Division II title in 10 seasons at Cheyney State, took the Owls to 17 NCAA tournaments from 1984 to 2001.

Since then, the Owls (13-11, 9-4 Atlantic 10) have three straight NIT appearances and are headed to a fourth _ unless they can win the conference tournament.

Through his actions this week, Chaney has found himself compared to former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes. The 65-year-old Hayes infamously lost his cool and slugged an opposing player in a bowl game _ a vicious moment that defined his loss of self-control and overshadowed an illustrious career.

Now, Chaney finds himself in a similar spot.