Two days after Notre Dame coach Mike Brey voiced his displeasure about game officiating and his belief about the way his college basketball program often is viewed in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the league dropped a hammer.
It was a heavy one. It was an expensive one for Notre Dame following Brey’s 64-second post-game press conference after Saturday’s loss to No. 5 Florida State.
The ACC announced Monday morning that it fined Notre Dame $20,000 and publicly reprimanded Brey for violating the ACC Sportsmanship Policy.
The policy states that “public criticism of officials or public comments evaluating the officiating of particular contests is not in the best interest of intercollegiate athletics. Individuals associated with the athletics program are prohibited, therefore, from commenting while acting in an official capacity on officiating other than directly to the Conference office.”
Brey said after the 85-84 loss that at times he feels like his program is treated differently by league officials because Notre Dame is not a member of the ACC for football. Notre Dame joined the ACC in 2013 for all sports but football and hockey.
On Monday, Brey made his first comments since Saturday in Tallahassee during the league’s weekly coach’s teleconference.
“I certainly accept my reprimand for my comments,” Brey said. “I will take my medicine like a man and accept responsibility on that. I’ll try to be a good guy the rest of the season, but I can’t guarantee anything.”
He was joking with that last comment.
Monday was the first time that Brey has been publicly reprimanded and the university fined for his comments by a conference during his 20 seasons.
On Saturday, Brey questioned two calls and one non-call and mentioned one game official, John Gaffney, by name in the post-game. After calling a traveling violation on Irish guard Rex Pflueger late in the second half, Gaffney issued a bench technical on Notre Dame.
“Come on, man, we’re in the league, too!” Brey barked as he left the post-game interview dais without taking questions. “We’re in the league, too! Come on! Come on, John Gaffney! God!”
Not only is Notre Dame in the league, it’s been pretty good in arguably one of the nation’s best men’s basketball conference over the last five years. That success included winning the ACC tournament championship in 2015 when it beat league flagship programs Duke and North Carolina on consecutive nights in Greensboro, N.C., home of the league office.
Notre Dame nearly won a second ACC tournament championship two years later in New York before losing power forward Bonzie Colson to a sprained ankle late in the second half and losing to Duke in the championship game.
With that run of success — Notre Dame won at least 11 league games three straight seasons (20015-17) while also winning at North Carolina and at Duke and advancing to two straight NCAA tournament Elite Eights— Brey was asked Monday why football should even be an issue for anyone around his program.
“I’m not going to talk any more about football and all of that,” Brey said. “I made my comments the other night. We’re not going to talk football.”
A Notre Dame spokesperson said it would not have any comment from athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
Earlier this month, the Southeastern Conference issued a $25,000 fine and public reprimand of Mississippi State coach Ben Howland after he violated a league by-law that prohibits coaches from publicly criticizing officials or making public any comments with officials related to officiating.
The ACC indicated that the funds from the fine will go into the league’s post-graduate scholarship account. It will have no further comment.
Notre Dame (11-8, 2-6 ACC) has lost its last two league games by three points and its last three by six. The Irish return to action Wednesday at home against Wake Forest. It’s the first of three straight league games at Purcell Pavilion.