It's been a turbulent two weeks for the University of Iowa men's basketball program. Seven days after Hawkeyes broadcast partner Learfield suspended play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin for the rest of the season, the school suspended head coach Fran McCaffery for two games after he called a game official a "cheating motherf*cker" and "a f*cking disgrace."
The outburst came in an arena corridor following No. 22 Iowa's 90-70 to Ohio State on Tuesday in which McCaffery was assessed two technical fouls within the game's final five minutes.
"Following the basketball game at Ohio State, Coach McCaffery made unacceptable comments to a game official in the hallway headed to the locker room," said Iowa athletic director Gary Barta in a media release, as reported by NBC affiliate KWQC in Davenport. "Fran's comments do not represent the values of the University of Iowa, Hawkeye Athletics, and our men's basketball program.
"Fran immediately accepted responsibility for his comments and understands the severe implications of his remarks. Fran fully understands this suspension and penalty imposed by the Big Ten Conference. Fran continues to have my full support moving forward."
The Big Ten Conference fined Iowa $10,000 for violating the league's sportsmanship policy.
"I am in total agreement with the suspension by Iowa Athletics and the fine levied by the Big Ten Conference," said McCaffery in the university's release. "My comments directed toward a game official were regretful. I apologize to Big Ten Conference officials, Iowa Athletics, my players and staff, and the tremendous Hawkeye fans. This behavior is not acceptable and I take full responsibility for my inappropriate comments."
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, McCaffery elaborated. "I shouldn’t have said it, but I didn’t feel really good at that moment about what took place — at all," McCaffery said, according to HawkCentral.com. "I think the official in question has been a guy of integrity in the past. So for that reason, I shouldn’t have said anything.
"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. I said it directly to him, and somebody ended up hearing it. Okay, that's unfortunate. But that's the reality of the situation.”
Did he regret his words? "Of course. Absolutely," he said, before claiming that such exchanges between coaches and referees are not uncommon. "I think if you look at every coach, there's been issues with officials at some point during the season. So this is not an isolated incident of one coach. We all express our opinions."
As for Dolphin — who was sidelined for the season after referring to Maryland player Bruno Fernando, who is from Angola, as "King Kong" — Learfield-owned Hawkeye Sports Properties announced Wednesday that the longtime broadcaster would be reinstated in spring in time to begin his dual role as the voice of Iowa football.