Jan 9, 2012, 12:34 AM EDT
Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman says the school has been suspended him with pay because of an incident near the end of Saturday’s won at South Carolina State. The Baltimore Sun first reported the incident.
The school is investigating what Bozeman termed “accidental contact” with senior guard Larry Bastfield, though the paper reports it could be far more complicated than that. There may be charges involved.
Some who viewed the incident in person, including school president George E. Cooper, thought that Bozeman had punched Bastfield in the face. Both Bozeman and Bastfield said Sunday night that the incident had been blown out of proportion.
In a telephone interview, Bastfield said that he “exaggerated” his reaction to the contact with Bozeman. Bastfield staggered a few feet backwards after contact with Bozeman, who, according to witnesses, yelled at Bastfield, “Get back here!” after he retreated.
“These people are completely off the charts” with the allegation, Bozeman said in a telephone interview. “I didn’t hit him in the face.”
But Christopher Johnson, a South Carolina State graduate who was attending the game, said that he and others clearly saw Bozeman strike the player and hear him yell at Bastfield moments later. Johnson said he was sitting in the front row of the upper level of the small gym.
“The fans all went, ‘Ohhhhhhh’ when it happened,” Johnson said. “It was pretty dramatic.”
Bozeman told the paper that school athletic director Floyd Kerr told him to “separate” himself from his team and to return to Baltimore from Savannah, Ga., where the Bears play Savannah State on Monday night. Bozeman told the paper that he’s “an emotional guy,” but that he’s never struck anyone in the face and that if he did, he would’ve left a mark on the 5-11, 205-pound Bastfield. (Bozeman is 6-5, 240 pounds.)
But Johnson, who emailed the paper about the alleged incident, maintains Bozeman was “out of line.” Cooper thought the same and reportedly told Bozeman as much after the game.
And Bastfield? He told the paper that Bozeman “accidently bumped me in the chest” and claims “it was something that happens in the heat of the game.”
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