Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery: 'Emotions got the better of me'

The UI suspended McCaffery for two games; profane comments were not meant for public consumption

Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery (right) and athletics director Gary Barta at Wednesday's news conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Mike Hlas/The Gazette)
Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery (right) and athletics director Gary Barta at Wednesday's news conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. (Mike Hlas/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — On Wednesday, the University of Iowa suspended men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery following a profane exchange with officials after the Hawkeyes’ loss at Ohio State on Tuesday.

McCaffery will miss Iowa’s home finale Saturday against Rutgers and the March 7 game at Wisconsin. During a news conference Wednesday, McCaffery said he will be on hand and will participate in Iowa’s senior day ceremonies against Rutgers.

Several media members witnessed the incident, in which McCaffery said to officials “You cheating mother (expletive)! You’re a (expletive) disgrace!”

“I just want to say I’m a very passionate person,” McCaffery said. “I think everyone knows and understands that. I love my family, I love my players and we live in a very competitive environment. Last night was one of those nights my emotions got the better of me. I apologize for that. I’m sorry to Mr. Barta, President (Bruce) Harreld. I accept full responsibility and I think that’s necessary.”

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta wasn’t at Monday’s game. A Big Ten official informed him of the comments. Barta called McCaffery immediately after his news conference Monday night.

“From the minute we started talking about it, he took responsibility,” Barta said.

The Big Ten also fined Iowa $10,000 in violation of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy and issued a public reprimand. Barta said a specific individual isn’t responsible to pay the fine, but McCaffery will pay it.

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“Fran has 100 percent my full support as our head coach,” Barta said.

McCaffery is in his ninth season at Iowa. This is his second suspension. In 2012, the Big Ten expressed concern after McCaffery slammed a chair to the floor at Michigan State. McCaffery received a one-game suspension from the Big Ten in 2014 after getting a technical and bumping into an official at Wisconsin.

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In the face of nine years, how many suspensions are too much? A headline with a picture of McCaffery ran on the Washington Post website on Wednesday: “Iowa coach Fran McCaffery profanely calls ref a “disgrace” after loss.”

“I would tell you that everything Fran does, I’m 100 percent behind,” Barta said. “One of the reasons I was excited to hire him was his passion. We’ve talked and I’ve said ‘I don’t ever want you to lose that or change that.’ There are certain things, I want you to get better, and he wants to get better. ... I love Fran’s coaching, I love his style, I love what he does. If and when he has an issue that I’m uncomfortable with, we talk about it. This one happened to be very public.”

McCaffery was called for a technical foul with about three minutes left in Iowa’s 90-70 defeat at Ohio State. He did point out Wednesday that it was his first technical of the season.

The “where” this incident happened came up during the news conference. It was a corridor in Value City Arena. McCaffery believed the area wasn’t open to the public.

“I said what I said back in the tunnel directly. I didn’t want it to be public. I didn’t say it out on the floor in front of thousands of people,” McCaffery said. “I said it directly to him (Steve McJunkins), somebody ended up hearing it, you know, OK. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality of the situation. My intention was for this to be sort of a private conversation. Unfortunately, it didn’t become that.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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