First-year UTEP coach Tim Floyd was reprimanded by the Conference USA commissioner Thursday after an on-court outburst that got him ejected and then escorted off the court by a police officer during his team’s loss at East Carolina.
The Miners (20-8, 8-5 CUSA) were whistled for 27 fouls and five technicals in the 83-76 loss at noisy Minges Coliseum in Greenville, N.C., on Wednesday night. The Pirates (14-13, 6-7) went 35-for-45 from the free-throw line.
Floyd started screaming at one of the officials early in the second half, and when he earned his first technical, he stormed onto the court and confronted one of the referees. Eventually, a police officer stationed at courtside intervened and led Floyd to the locker room.
League commissioner Britton Banowsky said he talked to Floyd and UTEP athletics director Bob Stull on Thursday before issuing the reprimand.
“When a coach is ejected, I expect them to leave the floor,” Banowsky said in a statement. “Coach Floyd’s actions were unacceptable. I have made our expectations clear going forward and do not expect this to happen again.”
Assistant coach Phil Johnson also received two technicals and was ejected, along with Floyd, with 18:48 left in the game.
Floyd was not immediately available for comment Thursday because the team was traveling back to El Paso from North Carolina. After the game, he said he wasn’t sure why he got the first technical.
“I was given a warning for having my foot out of the coaching box,” he said. “I haven’t got a technical all year long, so I went back to the bench. Next thing I know, I have a technical and I didn’t know why I got it.
“I was not upset with the officials at that point,” he said. “I was coaching my team after the first one.”
Floyd continued to yell at the officials before the officer intervened.
“It has been my experience this year that I’ve had a lot of men come over to me and say, ’Coach, you need to get back in the box and let us work,”’ Floyd said. “I tend to do that. I guess I probably reacted to that first technical, not really understanding why it was given. I probably earned the second one, but that’s part of the game.”
Senior guard Randy Culpepper, who led UTEP with 22 points in the loss, also received a technical in the final minute. Culpepper is the league’s third-leading scorer, averaging 19.6 points per game.
The loss was costly to the Miners, dropping them a game behind Southern Miss and UAB for first place in the conference standings with three to play. UTEP will host the Conference USA tournament at the Don Haskins Center, where the Miners are 15-2 this season.
The incident was Floyd’s first public misstep as the head coach at UTEP, where he worked as an assistant under Haskins from 1977-86. He had quietly worked under the radar in his first season with the Miners, building a fresh start after leaving Southern Cal under a cloud of scandal.
The Trojans made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and had three straight 20-win seasons under Floyd, but he quit in 2009 after he was accused of giving $1,000 in cash to a middleman who helped steer O.J. Mayo to the school.
Floyd has denied the allegations while the school wound up banning itself from postseason play and throwing out the wins from Mayo’s lone season with the Trojans in 2007-08.