Fox reprimanded for separate run-ins

RENO, Nev. -- The Western Athletic Conference reprimanded
Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox on Tuesday for unsportsmanlike
conduct with referees in two games in March but spared him any fine
or suspension.

The more serious of the two incidents involved Fox yelling
profanities and appearing ready to use force toward a police
officer and game officials after the Wolf Pack lost to Utah State
in the WAC tournament on March 9 at Las Cruces, N.M., according to
a police report issued at the time.

New Mexico State University campus police filed the report but
agreed to WAC Commissioner Karl Benson's request at the time to let
the league handle an investigation into the matter.

"The WAC has a set of standards by which all coaches,
student-athletes and administrators are expected to follow when it
comes to exhibiting good sportsmanship," Benson said in a
statement Tuesday.

"Coach Fox violated those standards," he said.

Fox also issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for his

"I take full responsibility for my actions that resulted in
this and apologize to all those involved," Fox said. "I have
renewed my commitment to adhere to the WAC's sportsmanship policies
in the future."

Benson was attending a meeting Tuesday on the Bowl Championship
Series in New Orleans and was not immediately available for
additional comment, WAC spokesman Dave Chaffin said.

Chaffin said he did not know if the league considered fining or
suspending Fox for a game. He said the reprimand carried no
additional penalties.

"A public reprimand is just pretty much what it says," Chaffin
told The Associated Press from WAC headquarters in Denver.

"It's not really penalizing. It would go in the file and next
time something like this happens, more stringent penalties could
occur," he said.

The last time the WAC suspended a coach was when then-Texas El
Paso coach Don Haskins was suspended for one game on Feb. 10, 1998,
Chaffin said.

Haskins had been reprimanded earlier in the season after an
altercation with an official earlier. He then publicly criticized
officials after he was ejected from a game on Feb. 7, which led to
the suspension.

The other incident involving Fox this year occurred during a
game when he bumped an official after a foul was called against
Wolf Pack star forward Nick Fazekas in the final minutes of a loss
at Utah State on March 1.

The WAC decided to review that matter after the police report
was filed in Las Cruces following Nevada's 79-77 loss to Utah State
in the WAC semifinals at the Pan American Center, Chaffin said.

Nevada officials disputed details in the police report.

"It was a 'he-said, she-said' situation," Nevada athletic
director Cary Groth said Tuesday.

"I think the hardest part throughout the whole process has been
the accuracy of the information," she told AP.

"What we determined after a long review was Mark was in
violation of the sportsmanship code when it came to his actions
toward officials. Both Mark and I agreed and he apologized for
making comments he should not have made to the officials," Groth

NMSU officer Quent Pirtle said in the report in Las Cruces that
he was escorting officials Bill Gracey, Winston Stith and Larry
Spaulding to their dressing room when he heard Fox using "loud,
boisterous and profane language toward the officials."

"As Mr. Fox continued to curse and be abusive toward the
officials, he continued to close distance," Pirtle wrote. "I
placed my hand on the back of the last official and tried to hurry
him up the ramp."

Pirtle said at that point Fox was about 2 feet away.

"I slowed down and put my hand across his chest to prevent him
from getting any closer to the official," Pirtle said.

The officer said Fox told him, "Don't put your [expletive]
hands on me."

"I told Mr. Fox to back off and again pushed against him to
keep him from the officials," Pirtle said. "The behavior of Mr.
Fox toward me was in a rude and insolent manner and I believed Mr.
Fox was going to touch or apply force to the officials or myself."

Pirtle said he considered arresting Fox on charges of assault on
a police officer and a conventional assault charge. After meeting
with Benson and other tournament officials, he decided to let the
WAC office deal with the incident.

Last month, the WAC also reprimanded New Mexico State coach
Reggie Theus for violating the league's sportsmanship policy during
a tournament game. Theus left the bench and went onto the court
after a New Mexico State player was intentionally fouled during the
March 8 game against Boise State, the conference said.