Co-owner fires McElhiney for player conflict

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ashley McElhiney, the first female coach
of a men's pro basketball team, was fired Saturday after an
on-court dispute with the co-owner of the Nashville Rhythm of the

Co-owner and CEO Sally Anthony was unhappy that McElhiney was
playing Matt Freije after Anthony instructed that he be benched.

The argument over the former Vanderbilt star's playing time
began during the third quarter and apparently escalated when
Anthony attempted to remove McElhiney as coach during the team's
110-109 win over the Kansas City Knights. Anthony was eventually
restrained by security guards and taken off the floor.

"I called my coach a couple of hours before the game and said
'I don't want him playing,' " Anthony told The Tennessean
after the game. "She ignored me. I walked onto the court and said
I'm her boss and she needed to bench him."

McElhiney declined to comment when reached at her home on Sunday
by The Associated Press. The team is 17-7 this season under
the 23-year-old, a former point guard for Vanderbilt.

Anthony, a singer who also has her own record label and a Web
site promoting female artists, said she was just trying to protect
her players.

"My co-owner and my GM decided to pay Matt Freije to have the
name here," she said. "He came in for two games. Our players are
struggling financially."

According to Anthony, Freije, Vanderbilt's all-time leading
scorer, was paid $10,000 to play two games for the Rhythm.

After the game, Anthony also got into a conflict with Jason Sonn -- the brother of injured Rhythm player Adam Sonn.

Anthony shoved Jason Sonn, used foul language, and directed an inappropriate hand gesture toward him.

"She's delusional and she thinks she's bigger than she really is," Jason Sonn told The Tennessean of Anthony.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.