BERKELEY — Cal men’s basketball coach Mike Montgomery was reprimanded by the Pac-12 Conference on Monday for shoving one of his own players in the chest during a game.
The conference did not announce what specific punishment Montgomery received for his actions Sunday night, although he will not be suspended.
“While emotions can run high in competitive environments, Pac-12 coaches are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect credit on the institution and the conference,” Commissioner Larry Scott said.
The confrontation happened during a timeout early in the second half of Cal’s 76-68 win over Southern Cal on Sunday night when Montgomery yelled at star guard Allen Crabbe for nonchalant play and then shoved him in the chest with both hands.
Montgomery downplayed the run-in immediately after the game, but later issued an apology through the school. On Monday, he acknowledged he went too far trying to get his star player out of a funk.
“I made a mistake,” he said in an interview with Pac-12 Networks. “There’s no question about that. Allen is so important to us. There’s a lot of pressure on Allen. He’s got to perform for us. ... Sometimes he tends to take himself out a little bit. Yet for us, he’s our leader.”
One person who doesn’t think the punishment fits the crime is state Sen Leland Yee, a Cal grad.
“While I have a lot of respect for Coach Montgomery and I appreciate his apology, his actions at last night’s game are completely unacceptable,” Yee said in a statement Monday. “The game was an emotional one, but representatives of UC — especially adults — need to be able to control their emotions and refrain from physical altercations with students. I urge the university to take swift disciplinary action of at least a one-game suspension and I wish the Cal basketball program the very best as they enter the final games of the season.”
Crabbe had to be forcibly restrained by teammates and briefly left the court before coming back and leading a comeback victory for the Golden Bears (16-9, 8-5 Pac-12).
Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said in a statement late Sunday night that she understood the game was emotional but Montgomery’s actions were inappropriate.
“It is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances,” she said. “The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again.”
Montgomery tried to make light of the controversy in the postgame news conference, smiling and saying the move motivated Crabbe.
“Worked, didn’t it?” Montgomery said of the exchange with Crabbe. “Allen had come down twice went to the wrong side of the court and his guy shot two 3s. I was trying to get him going. Probably overdid it a little bit, but Allen’s my guy.”
Crabbe said after the game that emotions were high at the time and Montgomery was just trying to motivate him.
“Everything’s fine,” Crabbe said. “It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach, no hard feelings. We’re just going to keep moving on.”