Iona Basketball Player Out After Brawl with Coach

Andy Berg Headshot

Iona College basketball is reeling after its star player was suspended following a physical altercation with assistant coach Garfield “Ricky” Johns.

According to Stadium, Roland Griffin punched Johns multiple times in self-defense. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Johns reportedly spent eight hours in the hospital, after he suffering a head injury.

“Iona College takes all matters of health and safety seriously,” the school said in a statement provided to Stadium. “We take every action necessary to ensure the well-being of the members of our community. The College does not comment on student disciplinary matters or student information.”

Griffin said the incident occurred Oct. 26 around 9:15 a.m. Griffin, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound senior, said that he and Johns have had multiple verbal altercations and that Johns told him to go to study hall on Monday — even though it wasn’t on his schedule.

“I had a tutor later, and wasn’t scheduled for study hall,” Griffin told Stadium. “He started yelling at me.”

The fight happened in an empty locker room.

“We got in each other’s face,” Griffin said. “It was really heated. He eventually grabbed me by the jacket and tried to throw me down on the ground physically. We were against the locker, wrestling against the locker. He was grabbing me and holding me.” 

“He tried to wrestle me down, and I ended up on top,” Griffin added. “I’m not going to let another man physically do that to me. I punched him four or five times, then I stopped." 

Griffin was temporarily suspended Monday, had a hearing Tuesday morning and was informed on Wednesday that he would face a school disciplinary suspension through May 31, 2020 — which means he can’t go to class, participate in any Iona-sponsored programs or events, or be on any school property owned, leased, rented or occupied by Iona College for any reasons. Griffin will not be eligible to play college basketball when his suspension concludes at the end of 2020 — so this essentially amounts to him being kicked out of the program.

No action was taken against Johns. Griffin and his mother, Fay, went to the police station and filed a report on Friday afternoon.

Griffin is from Illinois and spent his freshman season at Illinois State, where he averaged 5.9 points and 2.7 rebounds before transferring due to medical reasons. He was suspended for the state tournament at West Aurora High and also once at Illinois State.

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