Florida State forward Bernard James issued a letter of apology to Virginia Coach Tony Bennett on Friday in an attempt to smooth over the impression James had made the previous night. With just less than five minutes remaining in Virginia’s 63-60 loss to Florida State, James was ejected after kicking at sophomore guard Joe Harris’s stomach following a collision that left both players on the ground.
James, who is 27 years old and spent six years in the U.S. Air Force before beginning college, wrote a three-paragraph letter addressed to Bennett and asked forgiveness for the actions that necessitated his ejection. According to the Associated Press, copies of the letter were sent to Harris, Virginia university president Teresa Sullivan and ACC Commissioner John Swofford.
“Very classy,” Bennett said Sunday. “Everything you know about that guy is very classy. It was heat of the moment, and it wasn’t like he broke [Harris’s] rib by it. He just kind of gave [Harris] a little love tap with his foot, and I guess that’s what happened. But the guy’s a classy guy, and they got tangled up. The way he responded with a letter and saying I’m sorry and that’s not who I am, I thought that was classy.”
Harris was not made available for comment following Virginia’s 75-72 overtime win over Maryland on Sunday. He suffered a mild concussion during the collision with James on Thursday and did not practice Friday or Saturday while experiencing concussion symptoms. He was cleared to play against the Terrapins and logged 37 minutes.
“I don’t know if [James] was trying to get up or what, but he kind of kicked me in the stomach when he was laying on the ground,” Harris had said after Thursday’s game. “It’s not like he was kicking me as hard as he could. It was more of just a nudge, I guess.”
When asked if he had agreed with James’s ejection, Harris said Thursday: “He got ejected, so I guess. If he would have stayed, I wouldn’t have had anything else to say about it.”