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Washington State basketball coach Kyle Smith reprimanded for comments about Pac-12 officials

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 8, 2020

Washington State coach Kyle Smith shouts to his players during the second half against Southern California in Pullman, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. Southern California won 65-56. (Young Kwak / AP)
Washington State coach Kyle Smith shouts to his players during the second half against Southern California in Pullman, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. Southern California won 65-56. (Young Kwak / AP)

Kyle Smith has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 Conference for comments made about officiating in Washington State’s home game last Thursday against USC.

The Cougars’ coach was critical of the officials’ decision not to blow a whistle when WSU’s Noah Williams was tied up with USC’s Nick Rakocevic. Neither player was willing to let go of the basketball, though the 6-foot-11, 225-pound Rakocevic drove the 6-5, 192-pound Williams back toward the stanchion before the play was eventually broken up.

Smith was asked about Williams during his weekly news conference and how the play spoke to the toughness shown by the WSU rookie.

“I thought it was kind of a punk move by Rakocevic. He just kept driving him into the thing,” Smith said Tuesday. “I think it was terribly officiated. I don’t know, do I get fined for that? Probably. That’s reality, you’re not allowed to push the guy into the stand and Noah wasn’t going to give the ball up.”

The Pac-12’s reprimanding is nothing more than a caution, although the league could fine Smith for a second offense.

“The Pac-12 membership has established rules that prohibit our coaches from publicly commenting about officiating,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “We have an obligation to our members to enforce approved conference rules. As a part of our officiating program, there is a protocol in place for our coaches to provide feedback directly to the coordinator of officials.”

It’s the second time in the last three weeks that a first-year Pac-12 coach has been reprimanded for comments about officiating. UCLA’s Mick Cronin was cautioned for comments made following the Bruins’ game against North Carolina on Dec. 21.

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