Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo had to be restrained by his own players during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday as he eviscerated a 19-year-old freshman during a timeout.
The second-seeded Spartans were actually on a 10-0 en route to a 76-65 victory over the upstart Bradley Braves at the time of Izzo’s eruption. But despite his team’s good fortune on the court, the Hall of Fame coach still became enraged by guard Aaron Henry, whose effort was not up to Izzo’s standards
‘Aaron Henry, trust me, did some things that you can’t do as a starter on a top-5 team at the end of your freshman year,’ Izzo told reporters, as quoted by the Detroit Free Press. ‘And they were effort-related.’
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had to be restrained by his own players during the first round of the NCAA Tournament as he eviscerated a 19-year-old freshman Aaron Henry (right)
Immediately after the time out was whistled, Izzo charged onto the court and tapped Henry (far right) in the stomach before jabbing his finger in the 6foot6 guard’s face. Guard Cassius Winston (No. 5 on the right) attempted to intervene and appeared to calm down Izzo somewhat
But after the players huddled up around Izzo moments later, the coach became enraged with Henry all over, only this time it took several players to contain him. As many as four players pulled Izzo back as he jumped out of his chair in Henry’s direction
Immediately after the time out was whistled, Izzo charged onto the court and tapped Henry in the stomach before jabbing his finger in the 6foot6 guard’s face.
Guard Cassius Winston attempted to intervene and appeared to calm down Izzo somewhat.
But after the players huddled up around Izzo moments later, the coach became enraged with Henry all over, only this time it took several players to contain him.
As many as four players pulled Izzo back as he jumped out of his chair in Henry’s direction.
When asked about it afterwards, Izzo tried to relate to the reporters at his press conference.
Izzo, who is usually animated, did not think he crossed a line with his criticism of Henry
‘I get a kick out of you guys, get after somebody because you are trying to hold them accountable,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what kind of business you’re in, but I tell you what, if I was a head of a newspaper, and you didn’t do your job, you’d be held accountable. It’s the way it is.’
Izzo’s analogy was immediately criticized on Twitter because it contradicted the NCAA’s controversial definition of a student athlete.
The collegiate sports governing body prohibits players from being paid because they are not employees, but rather students first.
Critics have argued that NCAA basketball players are effectively unpaid employees in a billion dollar industry.
‘Izzo just compared his psychotic break towards a student-athlete with a boss yelling at an employee at a newspaper company who didn’t do their job correctly,’ tweeted Lindsey Darvin, who identifies herself as an assistant sport management professor at SUNY Cortland. ‘So wait, @ncaa is Izzo saying these SAs are actually employees as he attempts to validate his instability?’
Forbes NBA analyst Tommy Beer expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter: ‘I wonder if Izzo was head of a newspaper would he pay his employees?? Or maybe he’d make tens of millions of dollars while giving his employees free room and board and calling it even.’
HIGHEST PAID COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACHES
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is the fourth highest paid coach in men’s college basketball, including salary from both the schools and apparel companies
- Kentucky’s John Calipari: $9.2 million
- Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski: $7 million
- Michigan State’s Tom Izzo: $4.1 million
- Virginia’s Tony Bennett: $4 million
- Kansas’ Bill Self: $4 million
(Source: USA TODAY)
Including the bonuses he makes from Nike, Izzo is earning $4.1 million this year, according to USA Today. Only two coaches – Kentucky’s John Calipari ($9.2 million) and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski ($7 million) – will more than Izzo this year.
But while some may not have appreciated Izzo’s explanation or the tirade itself, Henry was understanding after Thursday’s win.
‘You know he’s going to chew you out when he calls you over there — there’s nothing you can do now,’ he told reporters. ‘Just responding to it is accepting the coaching and not having a pity-party for yourself and just being a basketball player and go respond.
Henry had been struggling, making just 3 of 7 field goals and missing a wide-open dunk when the Spartans held only a one-point lead.
Still, even Izzo acknowledged that Henry ‘responded’ with improved effort over the remainder of the game.
‘It’s been a minute since he chewed me out, because I haven’t played this bad in a while,’ Henry added. ‘It’s once every blue moon, I feel like. So I have to be better Saturday.’
The Spartans face their Big 10 rival Minnesota on Saturday.