The preseason first-team All-American became tangled with several Hilltoppers with 38.7 seconds remaining in the first half Saturday. A shoving match ensued, and as referees tried to separate players, an upset Harrell swung an elbow and kept yelling after being restrained.
After the officials reviewed video, Harrell was assessed a flagrant foul 2 and ejected. However, he is not automatically suspended for the Cardinals' next game.
"If not 'fighting' it is not automatic (next game suspension)," NCAA coordinator of officials John Adams said.
ACC associate commissioner Paul Brazeau said Saturday the league will review the play and can add a suspension if it deems it warranted.
Curtis Shaw, the coordinator of officials for Conference USA who had jurisdiction over the game, told ESPN the officials told him they weren't comfortable calling it a fight, knowing it would mean an automatic suspension for the next game.
Shaw said they had a view from behind and couldn't tell from it or the replay that it was a punch. They know the ACC has the ability to upgrade it to a fight and ejection and have decided to leave it in the league's hands.
Harrell departed with 14 points and six rebounds and apologized to his teammates at halftime. He was remorseful after the game and said his outburst "was spur of the moment. It was a heated situation in a dog pile and it took a turn for the worst, honestly. It was just a bad day. ... I know I shouldn't have reacted in that way and I'm truly sorry and apologize for the way I reacted."
Western Kentucky's D.J. Clayton also received a technical foul, along with technicals issued to both benches.
Information from ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Andy Katz, and The Associated Press was used in this report.