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BYU basketball: Tavernari-Alford exchange gets attention of MWC headquarters

Published: Sunday, Feb. 28 2010 9:21 p.m. MST

PROVO — The Mountain West Conference's supervisor of officials reviewed a video of a heated exchange between New Mexico coach Steve Alford and BYU senior Jonathan Tavernari at the handshake line following the Lobo 83-81 win over the Cougars on Saturday.

Alford, Tavernari or both could receive an official reprimand from MWC headquarters over the exchange in which Alford used told Tavernari, "You are an (expletive).

The incident has been posted online at various sites, including YouTube.

If a reprimand is issued, it could come as early as today.

Immediately after the contest, MWC supervisor of officials Bobby Dibbler examined a video of the exchange caught by freelance photographer Kevin Mitchell. KUTV photographer Skip Whitman also filmed the exchange and the controversial altercation.

Tavernari had to be restrained at the 58-second mark of the game after he and Lobo Darrington Hobson had a physical altercation immediately after a UNM timeout. A radio stat man at the scorer's table told the Deseret News Hobson threw an elbow at Tavernari and it landed solid on his chest.

Officials on the court reviewed TV footage and decided there was no flagrant foul by Hobson.

The issue carried over to the post-game handshake where Tavernari met Alford and shook hands with Alford. The Lobo coach told reporters in post-game interviews he tried to congratulate Tavernari for his career. It is unknown what Tavernari said as players shook hands and what Alford reacted to.

Video of the incident shows Alford turning around and going toward Tavernari, and he can clearly be heard cursing an insult at the BYU senior. Video also captured Alford reacting to BYU fans yelling at him in the tunnel as he exited the floor after the game with similar language.

As Tavernari continued to shake hands, UNM assistant Wyking Jones then had words with Tavernari, telling him, "What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it?"

According to the MWC handbook, the league's sportsmanship policy is violated if a coach, player, staff or school officials [use] "obscene gestures or unduly provocative language or action toward a game official, conference personnel, another institution, a student-athlete or personnel of another institution, coach or spectator."

"That's part of just being competitors," Alford told reporters of the Hobson-Tavernari exchange on the court. Alford never addressed his language.

"Tav was great. He made a point of coming to our locker room and he apologized. It was senior night, it was hard. You're talking about a person who has won more games than anybody in the history of BYU basketball. That's why I went to him to tell him how grateful I was to coach against him because he's a terrific player. That's hard, to lose your last home game. I know how hard that is and you can understand it."

Alford was asked about the review by officials of the alleged Hobson elbow at the 58-second mark as they reviewed available TV footage.

Alford said if you watch the film, Tavernari and Hobson were "getting into it most of the night" and are fierce competitors and "to single out one player would be hard." Alford praised lead official Randy McCall for doing "a tremendous job" of just "controlling the game."

After officials reviewed the incident on TV and took no action with Hobson or Tavernari, Hobson approached Tavernari to shake hands and the Cougar junior ignored the gesture. Accompanied by BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe after the game, Tavernari met Alford at the Lobo locker room and apologized for his behavior.

Asked about the row with Tavernari, Hobson said he has known Tavernari for years and respects him, and whatever happened was in the heat of the battle.

"He talked to our coach. I'm sorry it happened on senior night," said Hobson. "He's the winningest player in BYU history and I respect him. He grew up in Las Vegas like I did, and he's a friend of mine. It was a classy thing he did after the game (coming to our locker room).

Asked if he was concerned when officials reviewed the tape, that he'd get called for an elbow, Hobson said he was not concerned. "It was both shoving. It was our competitive nature. He's as competitive as anyone. We both want to win."

BYU's athletic department did not allow Tavernari to be interviewed by the media after the game.

e-mail: harmon@desnews.com

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