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March 3, 2005

Temple should fire John Chaney

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Last week, Temple University basketball coach John Chaney sent a player into a game against St. Joseph's University to, in his words, "send a message,” for the illegal screens that he alleged St. Joe's had been using. Neimiah Ingram, the "goon” Chaney sent in to deliver that message, wound up breaking the right arm of St. Joseph's John Bryant, ending his season and his collegiate career (he's a senior). When Temple heard the news of Bryant's arm, Chaney should have been fired.

Three apologies and a suspension through the Atlantic 10 Tournament do not fully make up for what Chaney did. To cite his credentials as a Hall of Fame coach with over 700 career wins ring hollow to me. If Temple was considering firing him for the poor season this year, that would be one thing and I would say Chaney should stay.

But there is no excuse for a college coach, a supposed molder of men, to encourage- no, insist- that his players intentionally harm an opposing player. And for what? Illegal screens? John Bryant did nothing except wear a Saint Joseph's uniform, and now his college career was cut short. There is no reason why Chaney deserves a second chance.

Not to mention that Chaney, in a conference call with reporters prior to the game, said he would "send a message” to St. Joe's, who in his estimation, got away with too much illegal play in their earlier matchup this season, which Joe's won.

Oh, yes, did I mention the university? Chaney is not coaching professionals, he is coaching students at an institution of higher learning. He is dealing with amateurs, and he should be seriously punished for encouraging an unsafe environment for his players, who all look up to him.

Not only did Chaney lead to the serious injury of Bryant, but he abused Neimiah Ingram. Ingram, a rarely used scrub averaging under one point and one rebound per game, was merely following his coach's orders when he entered the game and fouled out in four minutes.

Ingram was in there for no reason but to harm St. Joe's players. Chaney used Ingram for his own petty reasons, putting a spotlight on a kid for all the wrong reasons. Why would Ingram refuse the coach's orders, especially when Chaney's the one who decides whether or not to extend scholarships? For a player averaging three minutes per game, he likely felt he had to do everything he could to stay on the good side of Chaney.

Then, in the post game press conference, Chaney showed little remorse, saying that he "sent a goon in” to get physical. Now Ingram is forever associated with the word "goon” and the situation that his coach put him in.

A grown man who instructs his team to cause serious physical harm to opponents for no reason is not some one who deserves a head coaching job. It doesn't matter if it's a Hall of Fame coach in Philadelphia or the interim head coach at Florida Atlantic. A lot of wins don't excuse a mistake.

A premeditated mistake at that. He told everyone what he was going to do well before the game happened. The officials and Linda Bruno, the commissioner of the Atlantic 10 also deserve blame for the incident. The referees didn't bat an eye when Ingram entered the game and started fouling at will. None of his five fouls were flagrant, not even the blatant foul on Bryant as he attempted a lay up late in the game.

Then Linda Bruno said she was satisfied with Chaney's initial self-imposed cop out of a punishment, which was going to be just one game. That essentially conveyed that what Chaney did was acceptable. You can get a one-game suspension for yelling at a referee, or almost any sort of disruption. One game wouldn't even have been a slap on the wrist; it would have felt almost like a full body massage.

Now Chaney suspended himself again through the Atlantic 10 tournament. But what if the 15-11 Owls make the NIT? Will he get to coach there, or will the never-ending scale of punishment continue on there?

What Temple University should do is steal a play from Chaney's book and send him a message. A note of dismissal, to be specific. Firing Chaney would show that 722 wins can not cover up for effectively tarnishing the career of both Bryant and Ingram.

John Bryant is now forced to sit on the bench in street clothes as St. Joseph's tries to make the NCAA Tournament for the final time in his four-year stay at the school.

If Chaney is allowed to potentially mold kids in this image ever again, it will be a colossal failure on the part of the A-10, Temple University and the NCAA.

When you coach amateurs, there are things more important than the win-loss record. The fact that he is the supposed molder of men troubles me deeply. Chaney has a permanent black mark on his 30-year career from this incident, and deservedly so.

He's earned 722 wins, two Final Four berth, many A-10 titles and the undying respect of many coaches in college basketball. But this incident was so shameful and so selfish and uncalled for, that Chaney deserves only one more thing to complete his career.

A pink slip.

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  • 06 on March 3, 2005 at 2:19 PM
    Bushnell, well done once again! I know you're going to end up ousting Kornheiser and/or Wilbon at the Post at some point.

    Is Chaney senile? I mean, he is 70 years old. That is the ONLY excuse, any other offer is insane.
  • king pickle on March 3, 2005 at 2:50 PM
    regardless of whether or not there were any injuries, there was the possibility, so he should be fired just for that.
  • basketball scholar on March 3, 2005 at 4:54 PM
    he was into the game and was upset people do stupid things sometimes. What else has he done in his years coaching that should encourage him to be fired. There is no way he should be fired he is a good guy and people and other coaches have tremendous respect for him.
  • Isamu Bae on March 3, 2005 at 6:01 PM
    If a coach took out a baseball bat and broke someone's arm, no one is going to say "he was into the game, and upset people do stupid things sometimes." It's assault, and sending someone in to perform assault is just like sending in an assassin to kill someone. Please, he should be fired, and Temple is tarnishing its own image every day it puts off the obvious decision.
  • 06 on March 3, 2005 at 8:07 PM
    you say a molder of men, or mold at least three times in this article. next time try and vary your word structure...
  • ... on March 3, 2005 at 8:40 PM
    anyone who sends a player (or goon) into a game just to "send a message' to antother player by intentionally hurting him is worthy of suspension. when that goon breaks the other players arm and prematurely ends a players promising career is worthy of being fired or suspended for more than 3 games. temple should get a real coach.
  • basketball scholar on March 4, 2005 at 7:19 AM
    that baseball scenario is different and much more intentional i agree that would be outrageuous but it's different and he didn't tell him to break the guys arm
  • C-man on March 4, 2005 at 8:04 AM
    He sent the player in to foul the guy. In basketball, you can do that. It's sometimes even part of a larger strategy. Yes, it DOES happen. I'm sure that the coach didn't intend for the guy's arm to get broken. I'm not even going to say that what he did was wrong. Even when I was little and played basketball for the boys club, my dad sometimes said "foul them a little and show them that you're there and they can't do anything about it"
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on March 6, 2005 at 10:11 PM
    I say molder of men to prove a point. I could say coach, but this is a school that he works for, and that phrase conveys my message.

    he's a teacher, and what he did was a fireable offense. it's not that i ran out of synonyms "06," it was very intentional to put the phrase into your head to aide my argument.
  • John Chaney on March 8, 2005 at 7:43 AM
    "Thug Lyfe 4 eva"
  • Aaron (View Email) on March 10, 2005 at 5:36 PM
    Please, explain to me why he should be fired. He didn't say "go injure the guy", he said go foul him. It's no different from a manager in baseball telling a pitcher to throw a guy who's crowding the plate inside to send a message. It's no different then a head coach in football telling his cornerbacks to play the receivers rough to slow them down a little. That happens all the time in sports, however, there is nobody screaming for their firings. What happened WAS regrettable, nobody is saying it wasn't. And extending the suspension to any tournament they might get in this year is reasonable as well, but firing is absolutely rediculous. And what if St. Joe's had injured somebody with those illegal picks (and yes, they were using some shady tactics, it's not really alleged)? How come nobody is criticizing their coach for telling them to do something that could injure a player? If that's a firable offense, then every coach who coaches a rough team should be fired.
  • Carey (View Email) on March 11, 2005 at 12:39 AM
    I agree with Aaron. In your article you write "There is no reason why Chaney deserves a second chance." BUt in reality people do make mistakes and the only mistake John Chaney made was his choice of words about his team on national television. Ask any coach or player of basketball, or almost any sport for that matter, if they have ever intentionally fouled or played rough against an opposing player and the majority of their answers will be yes. Fouling is a part of sports and if not, there would not be rules agaisnt it. Chaney told his team to foul, not to break peoples arms. He made the right decision by sending in a "goon" who was expendable if he fouled out. The wrong decision Chaney made was calling him a goon on national television and not sending in a player who was smart enough not to hurt someone. That is the players fault and Chaney did something good by backing his team up, taking all the blame and to me that was a good decision. This incident was very shameful but it also is a part of sports, unfortunately someone got hurt. If you want to punish John Chaney, you will have to punish every other basketabll coach that purposefully fouls another player in a game.
  • Jim the Owl (View Email) on March 7, 2007 at 11:12 PM
    Chaney was right. If the refs won't enforce the rules, you need to do something about it as a coach. He did not intend for Bryant's arm to be broken. You self-righteous types make me crazy.
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