Chaney benches himself for league tourney

Posted: Tuesday, March 01, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — John Chaney benched himself again.

Chaney will not coach Temple in the Atlantic 10 tournament, part of a self-imposed punishment Monday for ordering rough play by one of his players in a recent game that resulted in an opponent's injury.

Chaney was already suspended by the school for the final three games of the regular season. He sent in a player he described as a ''goon'' against Saint Joseph's last week, and Hawks' senior John Bryant wound up with a broken arm.

''I believe the fair thing is for me not to coach during the Atlantic 10 championship tournament in Cincinnati,'' the 73-year-old Chaney said in a statement Monday. ''John Bryant is unable to play in the tournament because of the injury he sustained last week against Temple. Neither should I be able to coach.''

This is third time in less than a week that disciplinary action was taken on Chaney. Chaney originally suspended himself for one game before the extent of Bryant's injury was known.

When an MRI on Friday showed Bryant had a broken arm, Temple suspended Chaney for the final two games of the regular season.

''I never intended — nor did any of my players intend — for anyone to be injured, regardless of what may have been said emotionally before, during and after the game,'' Chaney said. ''But the unfortunate fact is that John Bryant was injured. I have taken full responsibility for my words and actions, and have apologized from my heart.''

Chaney had sent Nehemiah Ingram in to ''send a message'' over what he said was Saint Joseph's use of illegal screens. Ingram fouled out in 4 minutes, including a vicious hit on Bryant that left the Hawks senior and key sixth man sprawled on the court for several minutes.

Chaney had apologized to Bryant and his family and offered to pay his medical bills. Chaney on Monday apologized again in his statement to Bryant, both schools and the conference.

''Last week, my words and actions were wrong, wrong, wrong,'' he said.

Saint Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia declined to comment to The Associated Press on Monday and coach Phil Martelli did not immediately return a phone message.

Martelli did not participate in Monday's Atlantic 10 coaches' teleconference — the same one on which Chaney last week threatened to take action if the Hawks continued using what he thought were illegal screens.

The Hawks and Owls could meet in the A-10 tournament, potentially causing more ill will in a game that would surely have heightened emotions.

''Now, when we go to our championship, it will be one less distraction,'' Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno said Monday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Still, Ingram will be playing while Bryant's career is over. Bruno said there were no plans to take action against Ingram, who apologized after Saturday's game.

''You just have a young man that was following what a coach told him to do,'' she said. ''(Chaney) didn't tell him to break a young man's arm, but he told him to issue hard fouls. We felt he was in a game situation and doing what he was told to do.''

Chaney is still coaching the Owls at practice, though he won't attend any of their games. Assistant Dan Leibovitz is coaching the team.

The Owls (14-11, 10-6) clinched a tie for second place in the Atlantic 10 East Division. A Temple win or a Fordham loss will earn the Owls a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

A Temple spokesman did not know if Chaney would be allowed to coach in the postseason. Even if the Owls lost their last three games, they would be at .500 and eligible for the NIT.

Bruno said it would be up to Chaney or Temple to decide if the Hall of Fame coach should continue in the postseason.

Saint Joseph's (15-10, 12-2) won its fifth straight A-10 East Division title and could clinch the top overall seed in next week's conference tournament with a win on Tuesday at George Washington.

Chaney, who won a Division II title in 10 seasons at Cheyney State, took the Owls to 17 NCAA tournaments from 1984 to 2001. He has a 721-294 record in his 33-year coaching career.

Chaney's only other suspension came in 1994, when Temple had him miss one game after he threatened then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari during a postgame news conference.

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