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West Virginia coach reprimanded over Hawaii melee

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    UH athletic director Ben Jay received treatment from EMTs after he was injured trying to break up a fight.

The Big 12 Conference has publicly reprimanded a West Virginia assistant women’s basketball coach for his actions Sunday at the Stan Sheriff Center where a brawl followed the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.

UH athletic director Ben Jay and arena manager Rich Sheriff suffered injuries in attempting to break up a post-game melee.

WVA assistant Lester Rowe’s actions were judged in violation of the Big 12 Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct rules, the conference said on its website today.

“Coach Rowe violated conference rules that prohibit coaches, student-athletes, athletic department staff and university personnel from committing abusive acts toward an opponent’s fans,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Coaches have the responsibility to refrain from behavior that incites negative fan conduct.”

The conference said, “Coach Rowe is also put on notice that future incidents may result in a more serious penalty.”

In a statement on the West Virginia website, athletic director Oliver Luck said, “I respect Commissioner Bowlsby’s decision to issue a reprimand of our assistant women’s basketball coach, and any disciplinary measures will be handled internally.”

Rowe’s biography on the Mountaineer website said he is a 1985 graduate of the school and was a four-year starter on the men’s basketball team.

Luck said, “It was an unfortunate situation that occurred on Sunday prior to the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the tournament at the University of Hawaii. The incident has been reviewed by the appropriate individuals and I consider the matter closed.”

Meanwhile, UH said it is still attempting to learn the identity of a spectator it said had been heckling Rowe and the West Virginia bench for much of the game.

“Certainly the interaction between the assistant coach and the fan added fuel to the fire,” Jay said.

“We have some video clips that we are taking a look at,” Jay said. “We do have a picture of the (spectator) and we are attempting to identify his name. We do want to talk to him.”

Jay said, “there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the middle of it. People were just trying to separate (the parties) keep the fans and coaches back so people wouldn’t get hurt.”

Jay, who was hospitalized Monday for fractured vertebrae and blood around his kidneys, is working from home and said he still suffers “a jabbing pain.”

Sheriff, who suffered several lacerations, has remained at work.

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