American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco told The Hartford Courant on Thursday that the officials at the center of controversial ejections to UConn coach Dan Hurley and Tulsa counterpart Frank Haith could have handled the situation better, but they will not be disciplined for their actions.
Hurley and Haith received technical fouls during a heated verbal exchange with 11 minutes, 40 seconds to play Wednesday and host Tulsa leading 61-47. When Hurley went to shake Haith's hand after the T's, another double technical was assessed and the coaches were shown the door early.
"We've reviewed the situation," Aresco told The Courant. "Obviously, it was regrettable, it was regrettable. Though the rule book does proscribe certain conduct and you have technical fouls for various things, we've concluded that the situation could have been de-escalated without ejections. It could have been worked through better."
Both coaches said they felt the officiating crew overreacted to what Haith called "a competitive discussion." Hurley said he wanted to let Haith know that his team hadn't been getting the call on similar fouls to the one whistled on DaQuan Jeffries. He said the escalation to the ejections was "embarrassing for me, for the university and the conference and shouldn't have happened."
But he also noted his surprise at the ejections, calling them "surreal."
Haith concurred, saying the ejections were not warranted and that he considers Hurley a friend.
"The officials are acting on things that are proscribed by the rule book, but, again, there are always situations that could be handled differently that could lead to a better outcome," Aresco said. "In this particular case, we thought there could have been a de-escalation, but that's as far as I would go because we respect our officials and we respect our coaches."
Officiating has been a hot-button topic this week in the AAC.