Iowa coach Fran McCaffery apologizes (sort of) for tirade at referee

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said Wednesday he was sorry for haranguing a referee after Tuesday’s 90-70 loss at Ohio State.

But not entirely.

“I shouldn’t have said it, but I didn’t feel really good at that moment about what took place. At all,” McCaffery said at a news conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I think the official in question has been a guy of integrity in the past. So for that reason, I shouldn’t have said anything.”

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta suspended McCaffery for the Hawkeyes’ next two games — the home finale Saturday against Rutgers and at Wisconsin on March 7. The Big Ten Conference also levied a $10,000 fine on Iowa’s athletics department for violating its sportsmanship policy. Barta said McCaffery has agreed to pay that sum.

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Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, left, speaks during a press conference with Iowa men's basketball head coach Fran McCaffery on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Toledo Blade's Kyle Rowland and others observed McCaffery repeatedly shouting expletives and calling an official a "cheating (expletive)" and a "(expletive) disgrace" while heading to the locker room after Tuesday’s loss.

McCaffery was issued his first technical foul of the season for protesting late in the game. His son, backup point guard Connor McCaffery, had gotten one earlier. It was not clear which of the three officials Fran McCaffery was singling out, although it was Steve McJunkins who issued both technical fouls. Iowa was called for 18 fouls in the game, Ohio State 12.

McCaffery was asked Wednesday why an official would “cheat” against his Hawkeyes team, a particularly pointed accusation.

“I don’t know that,” he said. “I can’t even speculate to that.”

McCaffery said he was intending to speak to the official out of earshot of others.

“I said what I said back in the tunnel directly. I didn’t want it to be public. I didn’t say it out on the floor in front of thousands of people. I said it directly to him, and somebody ended up hearing it. OK, that’s unfortunate. But that’s the reality of the situation,” he said.

McCaffery clarified that he did regret his words.

“Of course. Absolutely,” he said, before claiming that exchanges like that between a coach and referee are not uncommon.

“I think if you look at every coach, there’s been issues with officials at some point during the season. So this is not an isolated incident of one coach," McCaffery said. "We all express our opinions."

McCaffery can still lead practices and film sessions, will still meet with the media to preview games and can even be in the building while they’re being played. He will be on hand Saturday to present Iowa’s lone senior, Nicholas Baer, with his framed Hawkeye jersey in a pregame ceremony.