- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 26, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — John Chaney’s use of a “goon” may have ended a player’s season, and the Hall of Fame coach’s career could be the next casualty.

Chaney was suspended for the rest of the regular season by Temple yesterday for ordering rough play by one of his players, who proceeded to foul out in four minutes against Saint Joseph’s and broke an opponent’s arm.

The Hall of Fame coach had suspended himself for one game Wednesday and apologized for his actions. He will miss Temple’s home game against Massachusetts today and road games against Rhode Island and La Salle, before returning for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

“I think my behavior is reprehensible and, as I’ve said 1,000 times, I take responsibility,” Chaney told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “If it’s the judgment of the school to suspend me, I can accept the responsibility of my actions.”

Chaney has a history of outrageous conduct and comments, once threatening then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari during a postgame press conference. But that conduct was often explained away as “John being John.”

Chaney said he hasn’t decided how the suspension will affect his decision whether to return for another season.

“I’ve had a reputation for many years, I’ve done many things wrong and made a lot of mistakes,” Chaney said. “My name is a lightning rod. Right now, I’ll just take inventory of myself.”

This time, the 73-year-old Chaney is paying the steepest price of his 33-year career.

Chaney’s self-imposed one-game suspension was extended to the rest of the season by Temple yesterday, a day after it was discovered Saint Joseph’s senior forward John Bryant broke his arm and likely will miss the rest of the season.

Temple president David Adamany announced the suspension in a statement.

“I have advised coach Chaney of this decision and coach Chaney has again expressed his deepest regrets for his actions,” Adamany said.

Chaney, angered by what he thought were illegal screens by Saint Joseph’s, inserted seldom-used, 6-foot-8, 250-pound Nehemiah Ingram against the Hawks on Tuesday to “send a message.” Ingram fouled Bryant hard, sending him sprawling to the ground.

Bryant, a senior and sixth man for the Hawks, probably has played his last game.

Chaney said he called Bryant yesterday morning to apologize and also said he planned to talk to his parents. Chaney also offered to pay for any of Bryant’s medical bills.

“I feel very contrite about John Bryant,” said Chaney, who has a 721-294 career record.

Saint Joseph’s officials declined to comment and a Temple spokesman said no disciplinary action was taken against Ingram. Temple did not say if Chaney would still be paid.

This is just the latest in a series of bizarre episodes for Chaney, who never has backed away from speaking out about perceived injustices.

In January, Chaney used his time at a Philadelphia sports writers dinner to rail against President Bush and the war in Iraq. Chaney rambled on until he was nearly booed off the stage. He challenged one dissenter to meet him outside.

That echoed similar sentiments weeks earlier when Chaney scolded the people of Ohio, the state that helped Bush win the election with 20 electoral votes, saying, “It’s not the people I hate, it’s what they did that I hate.”

Chaney’s political sentiments seem tame compared to some his postgame comments, often filled with a raspy trail of expletives.

In a loss to Xavier last March, Chaney said if he had a baseball bat, he’d beat some of his big men.

“I’d kill them. That’s how bad I am,” Chaney said then. “That’s how vile I am.”

The loathsome comments were barely a blip on the sports scene. Chaney often seemingly gets a free pass because of his role as father figure to the scores of players he’s recruited from inner-city homes and bad schools. Chaney never was afraid to reach out to the underprivileged.

But after Tuesday’s game, Chaney was at it again, defending his decision to send in Ingram to act as a “goon” and send a message.

Some of the coach’s antics were laughed away as the Owls made regular appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Chaney, who won a Division II title in 10 seasons at Cheyney State, took the Owls to 17 NCAA tournaments from 1984 to 2001.

Since then, the Owls (13-11, 9-4 Atlantic 10) have three straight NIT appearances and are headed to a fourth — unless they can win the conference tournament.

Losing and advanced age can be a troublesome combination in coaching — just ask Denny Crum or Gene Keady.

Through his actions this week, Chaney has found himself compared to former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes. The 65-year-old Hayes infamously lost his cool and slugged a Clemson player in a bowl game — a vicious moment that defined his loss of self-control.

Now, Chaney finds himself in a similar spot. And, the question is: Will Chaney’s actions, which cost a player the final games of his college career, be a defining moment for a coach who always prided himself on doing the right thing?

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