C-USA criticizes officials for foul against Penders

HOUSTON -- Conference USA said Monday that officials "exercised poor judgment" when they upheld a technical foul called on Houston coach Tom Penders after he collapsed Saturday during a game against UAB.

Penders passed out on the sideline late in the first half of Houston's 82-79 loss and was carried off the floor on a stretcher and given oxygen. He returned to coach the second half.

Penders dropped to his knees and then fell face-down as UAB's Wen Mukubu drove to the basket and was fouled by Oliver Lafayette with 52 seconds left in the half and UAB leading 46-44. Officials called a technical foul on Penders, apparently thinking he was reacting to the foul call. But the game stopped, and the crowd hushed when Penders didn't get up.

Penders, 60, has cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition, and had a defibrillator implanted in his chest in 1997. Houston officials attributed the incident to Penders' heart condition and dehydration.

Officials refused to reverse the technical after Penders received medical attention, and UAB's Carldell "Squeaky" Johnson made both free throws.

"Commissioner [Britton] Banowsky and I have reviewed the tape of the play in question, and it appears that the crew exercised poor judgment in sustaining the technical foul following the medical condition that arose for Coach Penders," C-USA assistant commissioner Chris Woolard said in a statement. "We have been in consultation this morning with Dale Kelley, our coordinator of officials, and appropriate action will be taken."

The conference will not release what sanctions, if any, it decides to impose, a spokesman said.

"I appreciate the conference office acting upon my request to review the matter and their willingness to hold officials accountable for their work," Houston athletic director Dave Maggard said.

Penders did not realize he had been called for a technical until after the game. When he found out, he said the call was "extremely poor judgment on the officials' part."