Updated with New Mexico State player suspension
One player has been suspended by his coach in the wake of an ugly incident that involved fans and players near the end of the game Thursday night between Utah Valley and New Mexico State in Orem, Utah.
Western Athletic Conference officials have said they will also look into the scuffle that will likely renew concerns about security and fans storming the court, whether in anger or celebration, as March arrives and college tournaments begin. But New Mexico State Coach Marvin Menzies acted quickly Friday morning, suspending K.C. Ross-Miller, who threw the ball at Holton Hunsaker, son of Utah Valley Coach Dick Hunsaker, as Utah Valley was about to win win 66-61 in overtime.
“No matter what provoked K.C., what he did was inexcusable and hence the suspension,” New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies told ESPN.com. “It is an honor and a privilege to wear an Aggie uniform, and a responsibility comes with that privilege. I will wait until I’ve had a chance to talk with our conference officials and university administration before any other disciplinary actions may or may not be taken.”
“It was a very heated, emotional game, and if any of my guys did anything that was out of line, they will be punished to the 10th degree,” Menzies had promised immediately after the game in an interview on the school’s website. “That may affect wins and losses, but they need to learn some life lessons after something like that. That is not going to happen in my program, and it’s just embarrassing.”
UVU players were told by administrators to leave the court immediately. Between 75-100 fans on the court— Jason Groves (@JPGroves) February 28, 2014
NMSU junior guard Daniel Mullings appeared to be struck by a fan and Menzies apologized for “K.C.’s actions. From what I understand, he threw the ball after the game was over and had expired. I don’t know what provoked it. I mean, Hunsaker’s a little chippy himself so he may have said something or done something, but you just can’t respond. I mean, we showed them plenty of clips where they do things that can get underneath your skin a little bit and you’ve got to be tougher than that mentally, and I’m just upset that he did that.”
Whether in celebration or in anger, the dangers fans post when they rush the court concerned Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski last year when Duke lost at Virginia.
“Look, do you know how close you are to — just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches,” Krzyzewski said (via the Raleigh News & Observer) last March. “I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach, you’re a [expletive],’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.
“I’m always concerned about stuff like that, especially at this time of the year. What if that happened and we get a kid suspended? That becomes the national story. It’s not all fun and games when people are rushing the court, especially for the team that lost. Again, congratulations to them, and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff. I’m all for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court. That’s the bottom line.”