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MADISON, Wis. -- A contrite Fran McCaffery admitted he crossed the line and apologized Monday morning for a verbal tirade that resulted in a pair of technical fouls and an ejection in a 75-71 loss at Wisconsin.
"I think you've got to be able to assess things that happen," Iowa's men's basketball coach said on the weekly Big Ten teleconference. "That's what you ask your players to do. You've got to be able to do that yourself and say, ‘All right, not what I wanted. I didn't put our team in a position to benefit them, and I think you've got to be man enough to admit that and say, I regret that.' I don't want, in any way, put them in that position.
"Additionally, you don't want to ever do anything to embarrass the university. We're living in a different world where you get a double-T 10 years ago, you get a double-T and that's it. Now everybody looks at it and sort of assesses it and weighs in on it and that's just part of the world we live in. But to that end, I don't want to ever do anything to embarrass the school but more importantly being able to put our team in a position where it would make it harder for them to win. I regret the second T, no question."
Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta weighed in with a statement Monday morning.
“I've met with Coach McCaffery regarding last night's ejection from the game in Madison," Barta said in a statement. "He knows he crossed a line of acceptable behavior and accepts responsibility for his actions. All staff at the University of Iowa fully support the Big Ten Conference's sportsmanship policy's fundamental elements, including civility and respect toward opponents and game officials. Fran has my full support moving forward.”
McCaffery became upset with officials during a media timeout with 11 minutes, 51 seconds left in the game. On an Iowa offensive possession, center Gabe Olaseni's arm was hit by Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes while Olaseni elevated for a layup but no foul was called. On the ensuring Wisconsin possession, Olaseni was whistled for a foul on Hayes near the basket.
McCaffery exploded and was hit with a technical. He continued to make his point, and a game official placed his left hand on McCaffery's chest and ejected the Iowa coach. Olaseni's foul coupled with McCaffery's technicals gave Wisconsin six free-throw attempts, and the Badgers converted five. That allowed Iowa's two-point lead to slip into a 44-41 deficit.
The Iowa coach recognized his actions put his team in a difficult spot, especially against the No. 4-ranked Badgers (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten). He admitted he was looking for the first technical foul to fire up his team and send a message to the officials.
"It wasn't like I was surprised," McCaffery said. "They (the officials) did exactly what I thought. When I've got to do then is just turn around. But I was talking to one guy and the other guy banged me and I was saying something else and boom, he ran me. I've got to be smart enough not to do that."
No. 22 Iowa (12-3, 1-1) led by 11 points at halftime and momentum swing staggered the Hawkeyes.
"I think the game was unique in the sense that we played near flawless basketball for the first 20 minutes, especially in that environment," McCaffery said. "And I felt good about it. We deviated from that in the second half, and things were going in the wrong direction for us. I wasn't pleased with a couple of calls but not out of the ordinary. That happens. I thought they needed to change some things and so the first one I think was expected, no question about that. I really wished I hadn't gotten the second one."
Iowa's players stood behind their coach.
"I don't know how in depth I can go about it, but I know he didn't intentionally tried to get both, just wanted one," Iowa senior Devyn Marble. "That kind of changed the game as far as the score."