GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan
and star forward Joakim Noah downplayed incidents that happened in
a 83-70 loss at Vanderbilt.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive thought the situation warranted discipline, however, fining Vanderbilt $25,000 on Monday for allowing fans to rush the court.
The Commodores were fined $5,000 by the league in March 2005 after fans stormed the court following a NIT win against Wichita State. According to league
rules, a second violation is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000.
"This policy is designed to create a safe environment for everyone who participates and attends our athletic contests," Slive said in a statement. "The security and protection of our student-athletes, coaches, officials and fans is our primary concern."
"I'm probably against that as much as anybody could be,"
Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. "Unfortunately it's something that happened. I don't like the situation that it puts players in, particularly
players for opposing teams."
Donovan said Monday he had no problem with what transpired
between Noah and Stallings two days earlier. Stallings grabbed the basketball near his bench under the basket and refused to give it to Noah for an inbound pass. Noah reached for it again, and Stalling swatted his hand away.
"Obviously, Kevin had the ball and Jo tried to get it to
inbound it, and I don't think there was anything that was that bad
to me as a coach," Donovan said. "I've got great respect for
Stallings. He and I have a good relationship. I think if there was
an issue for me, and for him, he and I would address it and talk
about it. We haven't. He acted like it was no big deal after the
game. After watching it, I don't think it's any big deal."
Noah agreed, even though he said Stallings barked something at
him as he attempted to get the ball.
"It's over with," Noah said. "I'm not really supposed to talk
about it. All I can say is that ... I feel like people are just
trying to get in my head. It's corny, but it's OK. Whatever. I'm
over it. At the end of the day, if he tried to take the ball away
from me, I wouldn't let him get it, either. I think that people are
just trying to get in my head, and I'm not going to let that
happen. They got us this time. Hopefully we get a chance to see
them again in the [Southeastern Conference] tournament."
Stallings said Monday that "it's something that happened in the
heat of the moment."
"I haven't heard anything from anybody," Stallings said when
asked whether the league had commented on his actions. "That's not
the story of the game. The story of the game is how our team
The usually outspoken Noah seemingly held back several times
when asked about what happened.
"I would have been laughing about it if we were winning," Noah
said. "But we were losing. I just wanted to get the ball and play
basketball, but he's a tough guy."
The Gators (24-3, 11-1), who dropped from first to third in both the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls Monday, had another problem after the
game when fans rushed the court.
Freshman guard Brandon Powell allegedly threw a punch during
Vanderbilt's on-court celebration.
Donovan said the team video showed Powell getting pushed while
trying to get off the court.
"I don't think anybody was trying to hurt anybody," Donovan
said. "I think [he] kind of got hit from the front and obviously
used his hands to defend himself and get out of there. I think that
issue is really not a Florida issue. I think it's a Vanderbilt
issue. It's a Vanderbilt administrative issue.
"It's not our home court. It's nothing that we're in charge of.
I think it's Vanderbilt's responsibility to make sure that we, as
an opposing team, get to and from the court safely. It's
unfortunate situation that they have to deal with that."
The SEC was reviewing the situation Monday. Powell could get suspended.
Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who criticized security
measures at Georgia and Tennessee in recent years, wouldn't say
whether the Gators issued a formal complaint to the league.
"I've said all I'm going to say about the issue," Foley said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.