COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) New Mexico assistant coach Terrence Rencher has apologized for his role in a verbal confrontation with Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo outside Moby Arena following Saturday’s game.
The Mountain West Conference admonished both schools on Monday, but took no action over the altercation. The league said the behavior after the Lobos’ 84-71 win was unacceptable and poor judgment was used by several individuals. It also said it was unclear how the incident began.
The confrontation between Rencher and Omogbo was caught on video by The Albuquerque Journal.
In the video posted on Twitter , Omogbo and Rencher scream insults at each other while standing between two Lobos assistant coaches. Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy is seen holding back Omogbo, who eventually leaves the parking lot.
The conference left any possible punishment up to the schools after its investigation failed to determine who was at fault, and New Mexico vice president of athletics Paul Krebs said Rencher would receive a letter of reprimand.
Rencher released a statement apologizing “to my family, UNM, CSU and everyone affected by the incident and I acknowledge my fault in the situation. I should have walked away. The situation could have been diffused and I am very regretful of that momentary lapse in judgment. I don’t know Emmanuel personally but he seems to be a good person and good teammate.”
Rencher added that he didn’t instigate the confrontation nor did he make light of Omogbo’s personal tragedy as some media outlets including ESPN have reported. Wednesday marks the anniversary of Omogbo losing his parents, a niece and a nephew in a house fire in Maryland.
Rencher, who had been ejected from the game, also said he didn’t “make racially derogatory remarks to him.”
Both men are black.
During the confrontation following the Lobos’ 84-71 win, Rencher tells Omogbo, “Learn how to lose, boy.”
Colorado State said Monday it would have no comment on the matter.
The incident was the latest embarrassment for the Mountain West Conference, which has seen a large number of technical fouls over taunting and trash talk in men’s games this season and three women’s players suspended for their roles in a brawl in a game between Utah State and UNLV .
During the confrontation between Rencher and Omogbo, Eustachy’s wife, Lana, suggests the three New Mexico assistants get on the Lobos charter bus to defuse the situation. Instead they stayed and watched as Larry Eustachy and guard J.D. Paige, among others, finally steer Omogbo toward the parking lot.
Lobos coach Craig Neal told ESPN hours after the confrontation that Rencher didn’t do anything wrong.
Rencher and fellow Lobos assistant Chris Harrima were ejected late in the game for leaving the bench when Lobos forward Joe Furstinger flexed after a hard screen and then made contact with Rams guard Anthony Bonner as he jogged back down the court. That flared tempers that were already on edge following pregame trash talk.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported that Rencher taunted the Rams during warmups at Moby Arena last year, according to former Rams forward Fred Richardson, and did so again Saturday.
Eustachy called Furstinger’s blind screen with 2:10 left a clean play but noted the bad blood began before the game.
Colorado State’s Prentiss Nixon and New Mexico’s Obij Aget were assessed technical fouls and Rencher and Harriman were ejected.
The league said it “examined all facets of the event, from pregame warmups through the postgame confrontation” and found “a number of conflicting perspectives … and, in some cases, there is no definitive proof as to the responsible party or parties.”
“What has been determined is the entire incident created an undesirable athletic competition environment and did not reflect favorably upon either basketball program, either member institution or the conference,” the league continued. “There were a number of errors in judgment throughout the course of the afternoon and poor decisions made by various individuals. Such conduct is unacceptable.”
The Mountain West added that the league’s board of directors and joint council “have been adamant in their emphasis on good sportsmanship and behavior. Those involved with this most recent incident will be under close scrutiny going forward – as will all Mountain West constituents.”
The Rams (11-7, 3-2) visit New Mexico (10-8, 3-3) on Feb. 21.