I was able to talk with Tony Benford early Monday about what Arkansas State head coach John Brady had to say about their verbal altercation and interaction with game officials near the end of UNT’s loss to the Red Wolves on Saturday.
Brady and Benford had an exchange with officials about a goal-tending call early in overtime that helped spark the Red Wolves in a 75-66 win. ASU got the three-point play and both coaches received technical fouls. No one disputes that.
What is in question is what was said and whether anyone acted inappropriately. I was on the other side of the court and down the floor, so I couldn’t hear what was said.
The exchange became an issue when Brady used a big chunk of his postgame press conference to go after Benford. I was talking to UNT players and Benford and working on my story from the paper when Brady was speaking and missed what he had to say.
We published the full transcript, given to me by Matt Roberson of the Jonesboro Sun, on Sunday.
Benford adamantly denies those claims.
I covered what Benford had to say in today’s paper.
“What he said is false,” Benford said. “I never cursed him. I have been doing this for 22 years and always act professionally.
“A lot of things happen in the heat of battle. He is fighting for his guys, and I am fighting for my guys. I have never disrespected one official since I have been here, and I never will.”
Benford went on to say that he only walked down the floor toward ASU’s bench when directed to by game officials. He went back to his bench when told to go back.
Brady was right in the face of the officials, who were near his bench.
While I was not close enough to see what was said, that was clear to everyone there, including Benford.
“I saw [Brady] pointing at the official’s face and yelling at him,” Benford said. “He was talking to two officials and a third came in and counted the basket. I was trying to wave them down to me to talk. He [Brady] turned to me and started running at me.”
UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said he is aware of what transpired in the game and will take appropriate action.
“The situation [Saturday] night will be addressed in the proper manner, but I won’t be addressing Tony Benford,” Villarreal said. “He didn’t do anything wrong. His job is to protect his team and he did that in a proper fashion.”
What it comes down to is what was said.
Brady says that Benford cursed at him and acted inappropriately.
Benford denies that he cursed at Brady, says that he didn’t leave his bench area until he was told to come down the floor by officials (and it looked to me like that was the case) and that he didn’t deserve the technical foul he picked up.