When Gene Bartow, who was coaching Puerto Rico’s men’s basketball team at the Pan American Games, said Sunday night that he might not return for Thursday’s semifinal game against the United States, people thought he was overreacting to his team’s 100-99 loss to Brazil.
But Bartow, coach at the University of Alabama Birmingham, will not be on the Puerto Rican bench for the game. He resigned Monday.
“I had that flu feeling Sunday,” Bartow said from his office in Birmingham Tuesday. “I told the Puerto Ricans I wanted to fly home. I talked to them again Monday and told them I wasn’t coming back.”
But there apparently was more to Bartow’s resignation.
Genard Marchand, president of Puerto Rico’s basketball federation, said at a news conference Tuesday that Bartow had tried on several occasions before this week to quit but was talked out of it.
“For what reasons, he didn’t say,” Marchand said.
Bartow, who has had a close relationship with the Puerto Rican basketball federation since he coached its 1972 Olympic team, is believed to have been angry because the names of two players who tested positive for drugs before the team arrived in Indianapolis were released before the players were notified.
One source said that Bartow also felt he was being undermined by team officials who wanted a Puerto Rican as the coach. He was replaced by his assistant coach, Armandito Torres, who is Puerto Rican.
“People didn’t necessarily feel that Torres should have been named the coach, but any Puerto Rican among three or four coaches,” said Martinez Russet, spokesman for the Puerto Rican delegation.