The president of Mount St. Mary's College said yesterday his school has canceled its basketball game at the University of the District of Columbia Feb. 8 because UDC Coach Wil Jones "lost total control of his team" in Saturday's controversial game at Emmitsburg, Md.
School President Robert Wickenheiser attended the game, which ended with Jones pulling his team off the court with 7 1/2 minutes to play to protest the officiating. Mount St. Mary's was ahead, 71-57. Fighting also broke out between two UDC players and some home-court fans. Wickenheiser called it "an absolutely inexplicable Saturday evening."
"We decided we won't go down for the game," Wickenheiser said yesterday of a decision not to play made jointly with Jim Phelan, the Mount's veteran basketball coach and athletic director, and the school's NCAA faculty representative, the Rev. James Forker. "Quite frankly, I don't think that Coach Jones can control himself. I just think Wil lost total control of his team. He had been close to that before."
UDC's athletic director, Willis Thomas, said yesterday he had not been notified by Mount St. Mary's about the cancellation. He said he had planned to review the game film today.
"The first thing we must do is talk to our coach and go through the investigation stage," Thomas said. "I want to look at the film and make an objective judgment. (But) I don't have to see the film. I see no reason why we couldn't play them down here. I have confidence that we can control things."
UDC's interim president, Claude Ford, said he would not comment until Wickenheiser contacted him.
"We want a cooling-off period of at least a year," said Phelan, who indicated that the teams may not play next season. "I'm not confident we can get it next year. But maybe the year after that."
Phelan reiterated that he has always had a good relationship with Jones, going back to Jones' playing days at American University in the late 1950s, when Phelan already was the Mount St. Mary's coach. When UDC became a Division II national power in the last five years, the teams developed an intense rivalry.
In Saturday's game, the Firebirds were charged with six technical fouls, three on Jones. After his final technical and ejection, Jones told his players to leave the court and forfeited the game.
As the UDC contingent was walking to the locker room, two players scuffled with fans. Wickenheiser cited in particular Jones' behavior in breaking up the fight by slapping his own player, Johnny Gantt.
"I vividly remember him hitting his player at the foul line," said Wickenheiser. "I don't think a coach should get to the point where he has to hit a player like that."
Jones said Monday, "There was just some pushing and shoving. I didn't see anything so bad. I went and broke it up. I brought my kid out of it. Because one of them was so excited, I brought him back out of it and smacked him. I said, 'Come on, let's get out of here.' "
Phelan, who has seen the game film, said that as Jones was given his second technical, UDC player Lyndon DeBellotte apparently elbowed the Spartans' Mark Scallion. DeBellotte was assessed a technical and Scallion made five free throws for a 57-47 Mountaineers lead.
Gantt picked up a technical shortly thereafter for throwing the ball out of bounds after a basket. And after UDC called timeout, Gantt was given another for throwing the ball at an official. At that point, Jones argued again and got his third technical before pulling his team.
Wickenheiser said yesterday he saw Jones throw a towel at an official during the timeout. "That kind of inciting is what's at issue," he said. "He threw a towel at the referee and one of his players did, too. At that point, you've got to say this isn't a game anymore."
Jones' rejoinder was to say about Wickenheiser, "Did he gain control of his fans when one was heckling me from behind the bench? Half the things, like the guy behind me heckling, I didn't mention . . . I didn't throw a towel at the referee."
Of forfeiting, Jones said, "I made a very good decision. It would have gotten bad if I had left them out there . . . The fans were the reason for it. They have been bad ever since I've been there. We didn't have a problem with Mount St. Mary's, we had a problem with their fans."
During last year's Mountaineers-Firebirds game at UDC, a fight broke out among players.