Security footage provides more details about a heated incident in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum following USU’s basketball victory over visiting University of Nevada.
In response to a records request, USU on Monday evening released security video from the hallway outside the locker rooms. Forward Jordan Caroline can be seen walking toward the Nevada locker room, looking distraught, jersey pulled up over his head. Instead of entering the locker room, however, Caroline turns and sprints back down the hallway toward the USU locker room, pushing others out of the way. Seconds later, other team members push their way out of the locker room as a staffer attempts to keep the door closed.
Sources familiar with the situation say Caroline was stopped short of the USU locker room, and apparently shortly afterward he punched the fire extinguisher cabinet.
Earlier in the day, the Mountain West Conference stated after reviewing video clips from several sources that they will leave it up to both schools to hand down any discipline for the confrontation between the visiting team and USU staff that happened after the game Saturday night. The league office released a statement late Monday afternoon.
“The Mountain West has concluded the situation was not caused by the court rush,” the release states. “There was a postgame management plan in place and it was executed successfully.”
Conference officials concluded that “inappropriate conduct by individuals from both programs in the postgame handshake line and subsequently in the locker room areas created the unfortunate circumstances,” according to the statement.
“The Conference office has had multiple communications with both athletics directors and has shared the findings of its review,” the release states.
USU and University of Nevada will both be responsible to determine and enact disciplinary action for those involved in the incident, the release states.
“It must be made clear unsportsmanlike and unprofessional conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
KUTV’s Jake Edmonds recorded footage of Caroline’s punch. In the video, Nevada coach Eric Musselman, Carolina and other Nevada staffers can be seen shouting profanities and saying that fans in the court rush were touching the players as they made their way into the tunnel. Whatever the case, the Mountain West’s statement Monday concluded the court rush did not cause the altercation.
Nevada Director of Athletics Doug Knuth stated on Twitter on Sunday that the video “shows an emotional young man responding to a highly charged game environment and a difficult loss. Our staff stepped into support this young man.”
Aggie head coach Craig Smith was asked Monday during a press conference if he was bothered by the post-game behavior and if they took away from the big win over then No. 12 Nevada.
“It is disappointing because it was such a marquee win,” Smith said. “That’s not what the focal point has been on. That’s just how it goes. We will let the Mountain West office and both administrations do their due diligence and handle it. It is unfortunate. The whole thing, everything is unfortunate with the whole deal. It is what it is.”
The Aggies led for the most of the game and ended up pulling off the upset, 81-76.
“What a great victory that was,” Smith said. “Nevada is a tremendous team. They are a team that could go a long, long way in the NCAA Tournament. For our guys to have the gut check and the way they did it says a lot. … I couldn’t be more proud of the resiliency of our guys. Obviously, the homecourt was unbelievable. I’ve coached a long time … I just can’t recall a better environment. It was an incredible win.”
Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the postgame incident, thanking the Mountain West and the University of Nevada in helping them review the incident. It was unfortunate, Hartwell stated, but it shouldn’t overshadow “a great college basketball game between two NCAA Tournament-caliber teams.”
“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,” Hartwell stated. “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. Moving forward, Utah State Athletics will review our game management procedures in an effort to continually learn and improve.”
The University of Nevada’s Athletics Department released a statement of its own Monday night, complimenting the Mountain West and Utah State’s Athletics Department for their diligence in investigating the incident.
“We accept the review of the Mountain West and we will handle this matter internally,” the statement reads. “All parties involved can learn from this incident, and we will. 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.
“We will pay restitution to Utah State University for any property damages incurred during the incident.”