Mountain West: Court storm not a factor in Nevada-Utah State postgame incident

Ryan Young
Fans celebrate with Utah State forward Justin Bean on the court after Utah State defeated Nevada 81-76 in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)
The Mountain West said the court storm had no impact on the heated altercation between Nevada and Utah State in the tunnels on Saturday night, and that it will not fine either program. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)

The court storm following Utah State’s 81-76 upset win against then-No. 12 Nevada on Saturday night was not a factor in the heated altercation between the two teams in the tunnel, the Mountain West Conference said on Monday.

Instead, the conference said that “inappropriate conduct by individuals from both programs” in the postgame handshake line caused the “unfortunate circumstances.”

“After a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Saturday night’s incident, which included a review of numerous video clips from various sources and the collection of written statements from multiple individuals, the Mountain West has concluded the situation was not caused by the court rush,” the league said in a statement on Monday. “There was a postgame management plan in place and it was executed successfully.”

After the upset win at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum — which moved Utah State to first place in the conference standings — Nevada players and coaches were extremely heated in the tunnel, apparently upset that Aggies fans touched their players during the court storm and alleging that racial slurs were used.

Nevada senior Jordan Caroline even punched out the glass case containing a fire extinguisher in the hallway. X-rays on his hand came back negative on Monday, though he is still listed as questionable for their game against Air Force on Tuesday.

Police officers ended up escorting Nevada the rest of the way to their locker room.

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The league, which said it had multiple conversations with both Utah State athletic director John Hartwell and Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth, said it shared the findings of its report with both schools. It will not sanction or fine either school, instead leaving any disciplinary action up to both universities.

Hartwell said in a statement on Monday afternoon that the incident did not involve any of Utah State’s players, but rather several of its staff members.

“While unfortunate, (the incident) should not overshadow what was a great college basketball game between two NCAA Tournament-caliber teams,” Hartwell said in a statement, via the Salt Lake Tribune. “After reviewing all the evidence, from surveillance video to eyewitness accounts, the incident was not a game management issue and was not caused by our students rushing the court.

“The unsportsmanlike behavior following the game did not include any of our student-athletes, but rather a couple of staff members, which is unacceptable, and we will handle those issues internally.”

Nevada issued a similar statement on Monday, saying it accepts the review and will pay for any damage caused during the incident.

“All parties involved can learn from this incident, and we will,” Nevada said in the statement, via the Reno Gazette Journal. “The Mountain West believes in the highest ideals of sportsmanship and good behavior, and we will address this with members of our program who fell short of these ideals on Saturday night.

“As we learn from this, it’s time for all parties to move forward. We are eager to put this incident behind us and prepare for the final week of the regular season and the Mountain West Championships.”

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