Pitt reprimands men's basketball coach Jeff Capel

CRAIG MEYER
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Pittsburgh head coach Jeff Capel gestures to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Pitt has reprimanded men's basketball coach Jeff Capel for "violating the ACC Sportsmanship Principle" after he criticized the league's officials following the Panthers' 77-62 loss at Clemson on Saturday.

In his postgame press conference after the loss — his team's ninth in its past 11 games — Capel lamented the treatment his players, and specifically star forward Justin Champagnie, have received from officials, both in that game and throughout the season.

"There's a double standard with us," Capel said. "I'm tired of it. I'll get whatever happens will happen, but teams can talk to our bench, they can go crazy over a call and nothing happens. But when we've done it a little bit, there's technical fouls. Really, for two years, it has been this way. But it has really been this year, especially over the last month and a half. It's really frustrating because I don't know what to say to my team. It's really frustrating."

Though he couched his critiques by expressing admiration for the ACC's officials, he ended his media session by saying "This is some [expletive]" before walking off camera. When asked earlier if he had reached out to the league office about his concerns, Capel said he had before adding "it doesn't matter."

The ACC's sportsmanship principle that Pitt referenced states:

"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."

In its statement, Pitt said that the university, the ACC and Capel consider the matter resolved and will have no further comment. There was no mention of a fine for either Capel or the school, something that usually comes in such a situation.

This may not be a typical situation, however. While it's common for a conference to reprimand or fine a coach (or their school) — it has happened to Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry, Texas Tech coach Chris Beard and Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak within the past two months — it's much more unusual for a school to dole out a punishment, such as it is.

Pitt added that Capel "accepts full accountability for his actions, understands the consequences of the comments and has spoken privately to the appropriate parties involved." The release did not include a statement from Heather Lyke or anyone from the university's athletic department.

Capel and the Panthers play Tuesday in the first round of the ACC tournament, where they will meet Miami. They're the tournament's No. 12 seed after finishing the regular season 10-11 overall and 6-10 in conference play.