NEW YORK, FEB. 24 -- Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt, saying the conference may have been "naive" in leaving team control solely to coaches, said the conference's new rules will give coaches "more ammunition" to help discourage fighting.

Gavitt's news conference with journalists who cover the Big East came a day after the conference adopted new rules dealing with bench-clearing fights such as Saturday's brawl between Georgetown and Pittsburgh at the end of the game.

The rules call for automatic suspensions for players and most coaches who leave the bench. The head coach is exempt. They also call for suspension from the next conference game, with the commissioner's affirmation, for players ejected for fighting.

Saying, "We're not trying to be the Supreme Court, we're trying to be a deterrent," Gavitt said, when the conference was created, he looked at other conferences such as the Big 10 and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"We saw the great things that happened in those leagues," he said, "but we also saw that there was some hatred and some suspicions and some other things that were going on in those leagues. Maybe we were naive to think that we could have the high level of intensity . . . without those side effects, without fans fighting each other, without the players fighting each other, without players having those feelings toward each other."

Tonight, Gavitt said sportsmanship has waned on all levels of college basketball.

"I think fighting is but a part of our concerns," he said. "Nationally, the code of good conduct of spectators, the way coaches deal with each other, the players, the whole thing has grown so much, that we need to take a good hard look at that."

Reporters, citing that Georgetown has been in three fights this season involving conference teams, asked Gavitt if he thought the Hoyas were a "common denominator" in the series of fights. He said that "there's a certain segment of the media that have made them a common denominator."

He was then asked if Georgetown Coach John Thompson coached a confrontational style of play.

"Confrontational, no," he said. "I think it's good defense, tough defense, and quick, athletic kids who play the game tough . . . and also, during that nine-year period, they've also been the team everybody's been looking to beat."

Gavitt, asked about the pressures constant national television exposure and being in major media markets creates, acknowledged that the league didn't respond as quickly as it could.

"When we started," Gavitt said, "we couldn't get on television, and nobody came to the games . . . now we've got good coaches and good players, and everybody comes to the games. Those are all benefits, but they're also some responsibilities that go with those, and I think we've been a little slow to respond, myself included, to some of those responsibilities.

"I think we have a chance to respond positively, and if it works, I think it's going to help a national trend . . . It's cute when it's vulgarity at Duke, but it's a bad thing when it's at St. John's or Villanova or Georgetown."

Gavitt also said he favored automatic suspensions for players ejected from games, but did not win out in the conference call with the Big East's Executive Committee.

The appeal process, he said, will probably not use instant replay or videotape to suspend other players who may have been instigators of fights but were not ejected.

"Unless some kind of a real error was made by the official -- he got the wrong guy -- my tendency is that we have to go with the {officials}, the six pairs of eyes," he said.

But he said he might suspend a coach, if evidence shows a coach is flagrant in not keeping his players from fighting, but that he preferred a school to take disciplinary action.

"I think that action comes from his employer," Gavitt said. "It seems to me that the institution that employs him, the director of athletics, should say, 'Hey, this isn't working out.'"