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Michael: Postgame incident with New Mexico bigger than basketball

The Rams dropped a second game in conference play, losing 84-71 to New Mexico Saturday afternoon, but the teams made headlines for what occurred following the game. After a chippy contest that started with the teams exchanging words pregame and continued with physical play throughout, a post-game altercation took place between Emmanuel Omogbo and the New Mexico assistant coaches outside of Moby Arena.

The incident was captured on video by the UNM beat reporter Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal, where a visibly furious Omogbo is being held back by head coach Larry Eustachy. In the video, Omogbo very audibly tells assistant coach Terrence Rencher that he will “beat his ass”. Rencher had been ejected from the game for coming on the court in the second half and supposedly has issues with the team dating back to last year, as referenced in Coloradoan Sports editor Matt Stephens’ column. 

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Even worse than a grown man trying to fight a student-athlete, according to Eustachy in an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Rencher laughed when Eustachy’s wife attempted to defuse the situation by reminding the UNM assistant that Omogbo was emotional due to being close to the anniversary of the tragic death of his family. New Mexico has since released a statement disputing that Rencher laughed at Omogbo.

“It has been reported by multiple outlets that coach Rencher laughed when he was asked if he understood the personal tragedy faced by Emmanuel Omogbo in the past year. That is categorically false, and video and eyewitness accounts have confirmed the inaccuracy. We believe that the false accusation of such a heartless act needed to be addressed immediately.” 

This was a classic heated game between a couple of schools that have a lot of history and do not particularly like each other very much, but the events that transpired Saturday went beyond the basketball court and it is really lucky that the situation did not blow up any more than it did. 

We may never know the exact truth of what went down, but I have a hard believing Eustachy would lie about Rencher laughing about such a terrible events for a variety of reasons. 

First, Omogbo is a levelheaded individual and as someone that has had the privilege to interview him throughout the season, I can say quite confidently that he does not act like that just because the team lost a basketball game. Omogbo has always been somebody that keeps his composure and I truly believe it would take somebody crossing the line for him to reach that level of aggression. 

Second, according to Keegan Pope of Scout.com, a University of New Mexico assistant coach reportedly told the CSU players and staff as they were leaving the court, “Maybe you guys should focus more on studying and less on domestic violence… At least we don’t have a bunch of wife beaters on the court.”

Finally, why would the UNM assistants still be waiting outside the arena and not already be on the bus for any reason other than stirring things up with the opposing team? Coaches frequently hang around until all the players are on the bus and considering the fact that the UNM players were already loaded, there was no logical reason for them to be hanging around the arena after such a heated contest. 

Even if Rencher did not laugh about the tragedy, as the University of New Mexico has stated, his actions Saturday were inexcusable and he deserves to face consequences for his actions, not a simple letter of reprimand that the University has given. Rencher antagonized an emotional Omogbo and took advantage of a young man that was in a lose-lose situation. 

Omogbo is in no way innocent in the situation, but the reality is a grown man should never do what Rencher did, especially one that is paid to be a mentor to young men and represent a University. 

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When players get in a scuffle on the court, we justify it by realizing that competitiveness takes over in the heat of the moment, but when a grown man tries to intimidate somebody off the court, that’s not the heat of the moment, that is just being a bully.

Collegian sports reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.

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  • A

    AKJan 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Is this a news article or an opinion piece? Regardless of which it is, don’t let facts get in your way. Omogbo acted like a punk. Period. You can’t threaten people and then play innocent. He was out of control while Rencher simply stood still. Rencher was, in fact, rather composed given the threats and profanity that was being hurled at him by another MAN. Let’s stop pretending that this NCAA Division One basketball player is a “kid.” At what age does a man stop being a kid? If he can live on his own, play basketball for a Division One college, and adhere to the strict requirements of team rules, practices, and game rules then he isn’t some poor child being picked on by some big bully like you’ve tried to make it out to be. Your definition of a “bully” is a strange one because most victims of bullies don’t act in the aggressive threatening and out of control manner like Omogbo. If anyone was the bully it was him.

    Have you ever heard of the concept of misrepresentation by omission? You attempt to make it seem that Rencher was ejected from the game because he came onto the court trying to instigate something. Tell the whole story if you mention the ejection. He was ejected because he came onto the court to restrain players and prevent a fight from ensuing. The reason he came onto the court is irrelevant for purposes of the ejection but it is incredibly relevant when you are falsely implying that he did something horrible.

    When you view the video you can clearly hear Eustachy’s wife ask Rencher “do you know what he’s been through?” And he can see and hear Rencher’s response to it. Never did he laugh and acknowledged what he went through. But, hey, again, don’t let the facts get in your way. Eustachy, if I remember correctly, wasn’t even in hearing range when his wife made the comment and had his back to Rencher unable to see what reaction may have occurred.

    Your hearsay assertion that assistant coaches made comments about domestic violence is ridiculous and completely fabricated. Why is the assertion so vague and lacking in specifics? Because it didn’t happen. Which assistant coach was it? To whom were the comments directed? Why didn’t any players or coaches made the allegation instead of some hack “reporter?”

    Journalism with an agenda is not journalism.

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