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Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery suspended for profane outburst at official

Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery was like this throughout the Hawkeyes’ loss to Ohio State. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Things quickly went south for No. 22 Iowa and Coach Fran McCaffery in the second half Tuesday night at Ohio State. The Buckeyes turned a three-point halftime lead into a 90-70 victory, scoring 54 points, hitting eight three-pointers and making 16 of 17 free throws after halftime. And while things were getting out of hand, both McCaffery and his son — Hawkeyes guard Connor McCaffery — were assessed technical fouls less than a minute apart.

Immediately after the game, the elder McCaffery let his frustration get the best of him. According to both the Toledo Blade and Columbus Dispatch, he called referee Steve McJunkins a “cheating m-----f-----” and “a f------ disgrace” as McJunkins walked down a hallway at Value City Arena.

On Wednesday, Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta announced that McCaffery had been suspended for two games and called the coach’s comments “unacceptable.”

Asked about the incident in his postgame press conference, McCaffery demurred.

“I can’t talk about that,” he said in response to a reporter’s query, per ESPN.

Connor McCaffery received his technical foul for protesting a foul called on him with 4:08 left in the game. Less than a minute later, his father received one of his own after stepping onto the court following a Hawkeyes field goal. Fran McCaffery again was mum on that sequence of events when asked about it.

“I can’t. . . . I would love to. I can’t,” he said.

The incident was just the latest public-relations headache for Iowa. Last week, Hawkeyes radio play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin was suspended for the remainder of the season after referring to a black Maryland player as “King Kong” during a game Feb. 19 (he will be back next season). It was the second time Dolphin was suspended this season; in November, he received a two-game sanction for making critical remarks about Iowa’s recruiting during an in-game broadcast.

McCaffery’s emotions have gotten the best of him a number of times during his coaching career, most memorably in February 2006 when, as Siena’s coach, he was ejected during a game against Hofstra and his wife, Margaret, also was escorted from the arena.

Tuesday’s incident also the second time McJunkins has been in the news this week. On Monday, the Atlantic 10 took unspecified disciplinary action against McJunkins and fellow referees Lamar Simpson and Nathan Farrell after they allowed the game clock to start too soon during a play at the end of the La Salle-St. Bonaventure game on Feb. 20. The Explorers lost, 62-60, after the clock started before they could inbound the ball with 3.1 seconds remaining and the officiating crew failed to notice and correct the mistake. La Salle Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Atlantic 10 apologized to him for the referees’ error.

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