Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour, in a statement released several hours after the Bears’ 76-68 win over USC on Sunday night, said coach Mike Montgomery’s shove of star player Allen Crabbe during a second-half timeout was “unacceptable,” but added, “I am confident that something like this will not happen again.”
Montgomery, in his fifth season as Cal coach, gave Crabbe a shove with 16:31 left in the game, hoping to motivate him to play better. A few minutes after the game, he said, “It worked, didn’t it?” He also said he would do it again.
In a statement later, Montgomery said, “I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment. While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions.”
Barbour’s full statement:
“Sunday’s game was an emotional one for everyone who cares deeply about our men’s basketball program, and the Bears certainly showed tremendous resolve coming back to earn a win over USC. However, it is unacceptable for our coaches to have physical contact with student-athletes regardless of the circumstances. The second-half incident was certainly out of character for Mike Montgomery, and I am confident that something like this will not happen again.”
Crabbe, the Pac-12 Conference scoring leader, totaled 23 points in the win over USC, 14 of them after Montgomery gave him a sharp push and yelled, “Do you want to play?” Cal trailed by 12 points at the time.
Crabbe became agitated and was pulled away and into a tunnel near the Cal bench by teammates Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon. Crabbe remained in the tunnel for a couple minutes while calming down. Montgomery put him back into the game almost as soon as he returned to the bench.
After the game, Crabbe said he understood Montgomery was just trying to get him to play better.
“Just spur of the moment,” Crabbe said. “It was a emotional game at the time. He was trying to motivate me. Everything’s fine. It’s under the bridge. He’s my coach.”