Friday, March 11, 2011

UPDATE: Kevin O'Neill, Arizona booster get into a scuffle at a hotel bar

UPDATE III: Kevin O'Neill has been suspended for the remainder of the Pac-10 tournament:

"We have met with various parties who have knowledge of the incident," USC athletic director Pat Haden said Friday in a statement. "Based on the information we have gathered, I am immediately suspending Coach O'Neill for the balance of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament. We also have set forth additional discipline that will remain private."
What an idiot.

Kevin O'Neill may have just cost his team the NCAA Tournament. Believe it or not, the Trojans are in the conversation for the bubble, and with a game tonight against Arizona, their argument becomes just that much stronger.

And now, instead of coaching his team in their biggest game of the season, O'Neill will be sitting at home watching the game from his couch.

All those people that ripped the hiring of O'Neill by USC? Yeah, they look like geniuses now.

UPDATE II: O'Neill spoke with Yahoo's Jason King to clarify reports. He said he went out to Wolfgang Puck's restaurant with some friends, and upon returning to the JW Marriott to retrieve some things before heading home, he ran into a booster that he is on bad terms with:
O’Neill said he and the booster got into a verbal confrontation in the lobby and that his wife also became involved. He stressed that there was no physical contact and that the argument ended as soon as a security guard approached.

“My wife and I walked away on our own, we got into a cab and went home,” said O’Neill, adding that he wasn’t intoxicated. “It shouldn’t have happened and I’m sorry that it did.

“I just want to make it clear that this was someone I had a personal history with and not just some random Arizona fan off the street.”
Take that as you will. From what I've heard, O'Neill was, at the very least, quite profane.

UPDATE: News is still breaking in this story. It appears that O'Neill's wife had an altercation with a prominent Arizona booster that O'Neill believes was a factor in why he never got hired at the school. O'Neill was also apparently jawing with Arizona players. There may have been an assault (The Big Lead spoke with the booster that was assaulted) and there is also a rumor that the entire incident has been caught on camera. Stay tuned.

Kevin O'Neill isn't exactly the most well-liked coach.

He's a guy with a love-him-or-hate-him reputation, and, generally speaking, former players and former assistants tend to be of the hate-him variety.

"He's a great guy off the court, but he's bipolar or something. On the court, he's a madman."

That's a quote that a former player gave Jeff Goodman after O'Neill was hired at USC. He wasn't exactly loved. He also spent a year as an interim coach with Arizona, where he thought he was destined to be the permanent replacement for Lute Olson.

All of probably sheds some light on what happened last night. Again, according to Goodman:
According to sources, O’Neill and his wife were involved in a verbal altercation with an Arizona donor. They were kicked out of the hotel, just hours after USC’s win over Cal.
This report is confirmed by PointGuardU (and may have been scooped), an Arizona hoops website, has even more information, including a picture from the bar last night where O'Neill is wearing the same clothes as he was at USC's game last night against Cal:
O'Neill and his wife were in a hotel lobby of the JW Marriott and visibly intoxicated when they exchanged words with a group of Arizona fans. O'Neill reportedly threatened the fan that USC was going to “beat the hell out of Arizona.” Words were exchanged and our sources say that O'Neill's wife struck one of the Arizona fans. O'Neill and his wife were escorted out of the hotel, and Arizona fans were left wondering what just happened.

Chaos and confusion ensued. The craziness of what occurred led to a scuffle between O'Neill and Arizona fans.

USC's athletic director Pat Haden released the following statement:
We have received some information tonight about an incident involving coach Kevin O'Neill, his wife and a fan from another school that occurred following our men's basketball game today. We are looking into this and gathering facts. We will determine what appropriate action is necessary.
I would say it should be a hell of an atmosphere tonight when USC plays Arizona in the Staples Center, but its Pac-10 hoops, so you never really know.

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