UPDATED: 3:08 P.M.
Plenty of buzz this morning about a physical encounter between California coach Mike Montgomery and star player Allen Crabbe that occurred during a second-half break in Sunday night’s 76-68 win over USC.
Bay Area columnist Monte Poole notes it’s not the first time the 66-year-old legendary coach has had altercations with players, noting an altercation with Justin Cobbs weeks ago. Poole writes: “One such incident should raise eyebrows and result in nothing less than a warning. A second incident, however, sounds an alarm and calls for a measure of discipline to be meted out by [Cal athletic director Sandy] Barbour or the Pac-12 Conference.”
In a statement, Barbour said: “Sunday’s game was an emotional one for everyone who cares deeply about our men’s basketball program, and the Bears certainly showed tremendous resolve coming back to earn a win over USC. However, it is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances. The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again.”
At the time of the incident, Cal trailed 44-32. Immediately after the game, Montgomery said he was trying to motivate Crabbe.
“Worked, didn’t it?” he told The Associated Press. “Allen had come down twice went to the wrong side of the court and his guy shot two 3s. I was trying to get him going. Probably overdid it a little bit but Allen’s my guy. We can’t win if he is not ready to play.”
Crabbe, the Pac-12 leading scorer, finished with 23 points and the red-hot Golden Bears won their third straight game to improve to 16-9. They’re tied for fourth in the Pac-12 at 8-5 with Arizona State.
Crabbe told the Mercury News he understood Montgomery’s tactics. He said: “Just spur of the moment. It was a emotional game at the time. He was trying to motivate me. Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach.”
Montgomery re-addressed the situation Sunday night and softened his stance.
“I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment,” he said in a statement. “While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions.”
Monday morning the Pac-12 weighed in and issued Montgomery a formal reprimand, which may close the book on the incident.
“While emotions can run high in competitive environments, Pac-12 coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect credit on the institution and the Conference,” Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement released by the conference. “Each Pac-12 coach must be aware that they are an example to student-athletes and other students, and consistent with this influence and visibility, must meet a particularly high standard.”
The Associated Press is reporting the Pac-12 will not suspend Montgomery.