ALBANY — Dwayne Killings will return as head coach of the UAlbany men’s basketball team, but will face penalties, after the university concluded an investigation into what it called a contact incident physics between Killings and one of his players.
UAlbany released a statement on Saturday afternoon outlining a sequence of events that included a February 27 complaint about the incident, an investigation while Killings was on leave as head coach, and justification for a “Inappropriate physical contact between Coach Killings and a student-athlete during a pre-game hype circle just before a road game on November 24, 2021. . .”
Killings will serve a five-game suspension and pay a $25,000 fine to be donated to a local non-profit organization chosen by UAlbany.
The Daily Gazette reported details of Killings’ suspension and fine, and confirmation of his return as head coach, shortly before UAlbany released his statement. Several media had reported Friday night that Killings was to remain the team’s coach.
UAlbany’s statement included an attachment to a letter from Killings, who was hired ahead of the 2021-22 season, addressed to university president Havidan Rodriguez in which Killings apologized to Rodriguez, “the student- athlete, his family, the UAlbany community, the Capital Region community, our student-athletes, my staff, and everyone I humbly represent . . .
Killings did not respond to a Gazette request for further comment, and UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson declined to comment beyond the university’s statement.
The head coach refers to November 24, 2021, as the date the incident occurred, and his letter continues: “I realize that the physical contact I had with the student-athlete during the pre-game hype circle was inappropriate, and not communicating it to the UAlbany administration was a mistake.
The university statement refers to the physical contact episode as “an isolated incident,” based on what the investigation found.
Although neither the university statement nor Killings’ letter identified the player involved in the incident, WNYT athletic director Rodger Wyland, who is also the UAlbany men’s basketball announcer, first reported that it was Luke Fizulich, which was confirmed by the Gazette via a source.
Fizulich did not respond to Gazette requests for comment this week.
After the lawsuit was filed on Feb. 27, a day after Fizulich played six minutes in a loss at Stony Brook, UAlbany played two games in the first week of March. Fizulich did not play in either. He was the first of three UAlbany players to enter the NCAA transfer portal following the end of the season.
The Nov. 24 game before which the incident occurred was UAlbany’s 64-62 win over Eastern Illinois in the Eastern Kentucky Invitational tournament, Killings’ first victory after an 0-5 start since replacing the Premier League. longtime head coach Will Brown.
The “circle of hype” mentioned in the UAlbany statement and Killings’ apology letter is a common practice in the locker room before games in which players motivate each other by aggressively hitting each other to elicit anger. emotion and adrenaline.
According to the database available at www.seethroughny.net, Killings’ pay rate is $372,300.
He served as head coach for every game of the 13-18 season, although the complaint was filed ahead of the regular season finale on March 1 against Hartford at SEFCU Arena. UAlbany finished with a loss at Hartford in the America East quarter-finals on March 6.
Here is the university’s full statement:
“The University of Albany has concluded its investigation of the men’s basketball program. Here is a brief summary of the resolution:
“On February 27, 2022, the University received a complaint against head men’s basketball coach Dwayne Killings. The University immediately initiated an investigation and took timely and appropriate action at every stage as new information became available, including temporarily placing Coach Killings on an alternate mission to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the investigation. and the rights of all parties involved.
“Coach Killings participated in this investigation pursuant to the rights and due process granted to him under the collective agreement between United University Professions and the State of New York. The investigation included interviews with all parties and any known witnesses who were willing to participate.
“The University’s investigation confirmed that there was inappropriate physical contact between Coach Killings and a student-athlete during a pre-game hype circle just before a road game on November 24, 2021 , and that the incident was never reported to the administration. The University’s investigation further concluded that it was an isolated incident. Coach Killings admitted his mistake, s apologized and expressed regret, and the University believes he can continue to effectively lead the University of Albany men’s basketball program.
“The University and Coach Killings have agreed to a resolution, including a five-game suspension to be served during the 2022-23 basketball season, a $25,000 fine to be paid to a local non-profit organization selected at the sole discretion of the University and required training on University reporting policies.
Here is the letter submitted by Killings, dated April 2:
“Dear President Rodriguez,
“When I first heard about the UAlbany head coaching bid, I thought it was the perfect place to start my career as a Division I head coach and the perfect place to raise my kids.
“It was immediately clear to me that Albany was a community eager to engage – it was a ideal fit. When I accepted the position, I noticed that it was my dream come true. I thought than then and continue to believe that now.
“My players have often heard me say that I love them, I have invested so much of myself in them, which gave rewards for all of us on and off the pitch. On November 24, 2021, I neglected to represent this, and I would like to apologize to you, the student-athlete, his family, the UAlbany community, the Capital Region community, our student-athletes, my staff and all those whom I humbly represent. I realize that the physical contact I had with the student-athlete during the pre-match hype circle was inappropriate, and not communicating this to UAlbany administration was a mistake. None of these actions will be repeated, and continued success in my program is of paramount importance.
“When you hired me, you said that through the interview process, I established myself as a person of character and integrity. I remain as committed, as I was on day one, to continue to exemplify the trust you, the Capital Region and the UAlbany community have placed with me as the coach, leader, father, husband and man you believe me to be.
Sports Gazette editor Michael Kelly contributed to this story.
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