The Associated Press
LAS CRUCES — Nevada coach and former Eastern New Mexico Greyhound Mark Fox yelled profanities and appeared ready to use force toward a police officer and game officials after the Wolf Pack lost in the Western Athletic Conference tournament, according to a police report released Tuesday.
The report from New Mexico State University police details a confrontation inside the Pan American Center after Nevada lost 79-77 to Utah State in the WAC semifinals on Friday night.
NMSU officer Quent Pirtle said in the report 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.”
Fox was not arrested and no charges were filed, but WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said the league will investigate.
“It was a very emotional ending to the (WAC) semifinal game,” Cary Groth, Nevada’s director of athletics, said Tuesday. “We were in very confined quarters and in the heat of the moment, coach Fox made inappropriate comments to the game officials when leaving the floor. He knows he shouldn’t have made those comments and by doing so violated the WAC’s sportsmanship policy.”
Groth said Fox had apologized to the officials, the conference, his team and the university and both he and the university have cooperated fully with the conference. Groth said the school had instructed Fox not to comment further until after the NCAA tournament.
Representatives of the Nevada athletic department didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday.
The day after the incident, Fox told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he and Gracey encountered each other after the game.
“We got stuck in the same hallway. I said something to the official that I regret. I apologize to him and the conference. I’ve got to realize when the game ends, it ends,” Fox told the newspaper.
Nevada (28-4) plays Creighton (22-10) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday in New Orleans. Both Fox and Creighton head coach Dana Altman played for ENMU. Benson said the incident would not prevent Fox from coaching the Wolf Pack during the tournament.
Pirtle said the confrontation began in a hallway leading from the court.
“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 protested and cursed.
“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’s report said.
Pirtle said he got two of the officials into an elevator but the third official went up a stairway, accompanied by a tournament staff member. The staffer told Pirtle that Fox continued chasing the official up the stairway.
“He (Fox) was slapping his hand on the wall of the stairwell and the official was climbing the stairs as fast as he could so that Mr. Fox would not catch him,” Pirtle wrote.
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.