After reviewing head coach Sean Woods’ behavior in the second half of Morehead State’s 81-70 loss at No. 8 Kentucky on Wednesday night, the school has made the decision to suspend the first-year head coach for one game.
Woods, who was the head coach at Mississippi Valley State for four years before replacing Donnie Tyndall at Morehead State, will miss the Eagles’ home game against Norfolk State on Monday night.
Morehead State athletics director Brian Hutchinson made the following statement in regards to the decision to suspend Woods:
“Six months ago, we conducted a national search to identify the next coach, who, building on a foundation of rich men’s basketball history, would lead the Morehead State Eagles into the next era. Sean Woods, who had excelled as a student-athlete and recently led a relatively unknown program to the national stage, was selected and enthusiastically accepted that challenge. We were and remain excited about our choice.
“On Wednesday night, Morehead State took on the University of Kentucky in a hotly-contested and emotionally-charged contest at Rupp Arena. A lot was on the line for our team and they executed an aggressive, exciting style of play, one that our fans have witnessed throughout the initial stages of this season.
“We recognize that the young men in our basketball program are students first and athletes second. It is our expectation that our coaches are first teachers, who reflect the core values of the university which includes valuing the individual and treating people with respect. Near the end of the game, Coach Woods’ interaction with one of our student-athletes fell short of that value and was unacceptable.
“We believe Coach Woods, while remorseful, is not above reproach. Therefore, he will be suspended for Monday night’s game against Norfolk State. This will allow Coach Woods to consider his action and behavior, and allow him time to contemplate the appropriate way to conduct himself with his players and on the sideline.
“As we move beyond this incident, our focus will be on the continued development of each student-athlete and of a team capable of contending for an Ohio Valley Conference championship. This will be accomplished in an environment characterized by hard work, constructive criticism and mutual respect.”
Woods also issued a short statement on the matter, expressing his remorse with regards to the behavior directed towards point guard Devon Atkinson after Atkinson committed his fifth foul with 5:51 remaining.
“My behavior during Wednesday night’s game was inappropriate and unacceptable. I am truly sorry.
“I value the opportunity I have been given as the head men’s basketball coach at Morehead State. I am passionate about the young men on our team and the opportunities we have together. I care for them deeply.
“I can assure our student-athletes, university community, alumni and fans that anything approaching this type of situation will not happen again.”
Given the reactions to Woods’ behavior, be it from the fans at Rupp Arena and television announcers who fell uncomfortably silent during the episode or the many columns written, the school had to address the situation.
While some coaches are fiery there is a line, and this is the second time this season Woods’ interaction with a player has garnered attention (his screaming at Drew Kelly during a 67-45 loss at Maryland on November 12). By making this move hopefully Morehead State and Woods won’t have to travel down this road again.