NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams said Kevin Stallings’ outburst after the Commodores’ win at Tennessee was “unfortunate” and he will handle the issue internally.
The men’s basketball coach said he’s fine with whatever punishment the AD hands down.
“I was wrong,” Stallings said Friday.
Stallings apologized Thursday night for his “inappropriate comment” caught by television cameras as he yelled at Commodores guard Wade Baldwin IV following a 73-65 victory over Tennessee. Baldwin clapped in the face of Tennessee forward Armani Moore after the game. During postgame handshakes, replays showed Stallings appeared to shout obscenities and say that he could “kill” Baldwin.
Williams met with Stallings earlier Friday and said in a statement that both consider his “offensive and inflammatory language” toward a student-athlete inappropriate.
“We have heard from those supporting the coach’s intent and from those angered and embarrassed by his comment,” Williams said. “Coach Stallings apologized to the student-athlete after the game as well as issuing an immediate public apology. Vanderbilt considers this a personnel issue and as such it will be handled internally.”
Williams said they both agree the head coach must “exemplify” the conduct he expects from his players. The athletic director called it an unfortunate incident since Stallings has stood for high ideals in academics, character and sportsmanship during his 16 seasons as Vanderbilt’s coach.
“Vanderbilt considers this a personnel issue and as such it will be handled internally,” Williams said.
Stallings, who met with reporters after practice Friday, declined to comment when asked about what that punishment is deferring to Williams. A suspension isn’t expected, though, because Stallings said that would be yet another distraction for the Commodores (16-12, 6-9 Southeastern Conference).
The coach also said he had no excuse for his behavior using the wrong language in the wrong place and time. He also apologized to Baldwin again, the team, Williams and Vanderbilt administration.
“We have a high standard about how we are supposed to behave and how we’re supposed to conduct ourselves, and I was the violator of the standard last night,” Stallings said. “That’s always my greatest disappointment. I’m always disappointed when a player lets down in some aspect of our culture, but I’m always much more disappointed when I do it. And I did it last night.”
Thursday night’s big win came over an in-state rival. Stallings also tied Tubby Smith for sixth in all-time coaching wins among Southeastern Conference coaches with 308.
“And today nobody is talking about their performance, and I took that focus off of them,” Stallings said.
Stallings said that Baldwin’s behavior wasn’t as egregious as the coach thought in the moment.
Baldwin already had tweeted out his support for Stallings late Thursday night.
“Coach Stallings is the best coach in America,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “I felt no offense to anything. We are both fiery people and that’s why I chose Vandy.”
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