GNAC suspends Osborne for Saturday tantrum

Beth Bragg

A late-game outburst in UAA's last men's basketball game will keep coach Rusty Osborne out of the team's next game.

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference suspended Osborne one game for unsportsmanlike conduct in UAA's game against Central Washington in Ellensburg, Wash.

Osborne, who is in his ninth season as head coach after spending 13 seasons as an assistant coach for the Seawolves, will miss Thursday's game against Western Oregon at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Cameron Turner will serve as head coach for the game. Turner, a 2004 graduate of Southern Oregon, is in his first season as a full-time assistant coach after spending last season with the team as a graduate assistant.

An angry Osborne went onto the court to confront a referee after he was called for technical fouls and ejected in the final seconds of UAA's 81-72 loss to the Wildcats.

"Coach's Osborne's actions are unacceptable and in violation of GNAC bylaws, which clearly address sportsmanship and behavior toward game officials," GNAC commissioner Dave Haglund said in a statement released by the conference.

There was no physical contact between the coach and the official, UAA sports information director Nate Sagan said, nor is there more punishment forthcoming beyond the conference-mandated suspension.

Osborne unleashed his fury near the end of a game that featured a huge UAA comeback that erased a 20-point deficit. With 35 seconds left, Central Washington's Mark McLaughlin hit a jumper to give his team 74-72 lead.

Twenty seconds later, McLaughlin stole the ball from UAA's Kyle Fossman, drew a foul from Jalen Little, and buried both free throws for a 76-72 lead.

With 4.2 seconds left, McLaughlin stole the ball again, this time from Mike MacKelvie. UAA's Abebe Demissie was called for a foul against McLaughlin, prompting Osborne's tirade.

Once Osborne had been ejected, McLaughlin went to the foul line, missed one free throw and then sank five straight. He made three of the four shots from the technical fouls and hit both shots from the foul against Demissie.

"I have accepted the sanctions handed down by the GNAC for my actions Saturday night," Osborne said in a statement released by UAA. "We teach our players that there are consequences for our actions, and this is the consequence that I must accept. Our staff has high expectations for behavior within our program, and my actions were outside these boundaries and unacceptable."

UAA athletic director Steve Cobb said the school supports the suspension.

"(UAA) will take the necessary correction action to ensure this does not happen again," he said in a statement released by the GNAC.

The Osborne suspension was one of two actions against coaches taken this week by the GNAC.

Jamie Stevens, the second-year coach at Montana State-Billings, was reprimanded for post-game comments criticizing officials after his team's 95-80 home-court loss to Western Washington on Saturday.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.