Wake Forest Suspends Paul From Friday's ACC Tourney Game
Posted March 7, 2005 2:55 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake Forest University suspended sophomore guard Chris Paul from Fridays ACC Tournament quarterfinal game because of his involvement in an altercation during Sundays game at N.C. State, athletic director Ron Wellman and head basketball coach Skip Prosser announced Monday.
Paul will be eligible to practice with the team when the Demon Deacons return to the court on Tuesday. Paul will return to game action following Friday nights contest. Wake Forest, the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament, will play either N.C . State or Florida State Friday night at 7 p.m.
During Sunday's game, Paul made contact with Julius Hodge, hitting him with a low blow during a battle underneath the basket. Hodge, the reigning ACC player of the year, fell to the court with 12:48 left in the first half.
With Hodge lying on the ground, his older brother, Steve, walked onto the court to see if Julius was OK -- and to yell toward Paul on the Wake Forest bench. Steve Hodge walked off the court, and arena security soon instructed him to leave the court area.
Once Hodge got up, he angrily yelled and gestured toward the Demon Deacons' sideline on his way back to the bench.
Paul said the two were just tangled up.
"I don't believe I popped him,'' Paul said. "It was just the heat of the game. I've got too much respect for him to try to pop him on senior night.''
When told that replays showed him hitting Hodge, Paul responded, "I haven't seen the replay.''
"He punched me in the groin and the ref saw it,'' Hodge said. "I got suspended for that (as a freshman). ... I never play dirty like that.''
A few minutes after returning to the game, Hodge was whistled for a technical foul when he gave Paul a shove after he was fouled in the post.
From there, Paul was booed loudly every time he touched the ball, and N.C. State fans began chanting "Dirty Deacons!'' Paul, a candidate for the Wooden Award, the Naismith Trophy, the Rupp Trophy and the Cousy Award, has played in all 61 games of his two-year career. Paul averages 14.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.
*Statement From Athletic Director Ron Wellman* "Chris Paul is an excellent representative of our program and he has been for two years. However, the incident last night is not something that Wake Forest condones, and neither does Chris Paul. It is an incident for which he is extremely sorry. We are proud of Chris and we are convinced that his future behavior will reflect the outstanding individual that he is. "This is not an easy decision to make because of the type of individual we are dealing with. After consulting with (ACC Commissioner) John Swofford, we believe it is the right thing to do for Chris Paul, Wake Forest and the ACC.
*Statement From Head Coach Skip Prosser* "I have said for two years that I would not trade Chris Paul for any point guard in the country. This remains the case. The game of basketball is best played in a certain manner. Chris committed a grave error in judgement Sunday evening. He is contrite and aware that his actions did not reflect the best of Wake Forest and our basketball team. This disciplinary action speaks on our intention to hold our players to the highest standards of sportsmanship and proper conduct. "At this time we turn our attention to improving our team and preparing for the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. I will have no future comment about this decision."
*Statement From Sophomore Guard Chris Paul*
"I would like to apologize to Julius Hodge, the NC State team, Wake Forest fans and my teammates for an incident that I truly regret. Sunday night was emotional for me for many reasons and I let my emotions get the best of me. However, that is no excuse for my actions and I fully accept and agree with my suspension."