There may be a debate about who said what to whom, but to USC Coach Kevin O’Neill, it’s simple:
“No one should ever speak to the officials but me,” he said.
With that said, Stan Holt, a graduate student manager who drew a technical foul late in a tight game at Oregon on Saturday, was fired by O’Neill after the team arrived back in Los Angeles that night.
While the impact of the call was certain, there is uncertainty about what caused it. O’Neill said official Bobby McRoy did not recite what Holt said, only that “he was screaming obscenities at him.” O’Neill said McRoy didn’t warn him about Holt before making the call.
One team source said he could hear Holt jawing with officials during the game. Another source said that Holt, who had been with the team for three years, had been warned about that on previous occasions.
Reached by phone Monday night, Holt declined to comment, except to say he is working on a statement to release to the media.
The call gained notoriety not only because it was directed toward a student manager, a rare occurrence, but because of its inopportune timing for USC.
McRoy pointed toward Holt and blew his whistle with 4 minutes 35 seconds left with Oregon leading USC, 49-47. The Ducks converted the ensuing free throws, starting a 13-3 run that would put the game out of USC’s reach.
O’Neill said after the game he had fired Holt, then backtracked. He thought it over on the flight home and decided to let Holt go.
“Everybody knows they’re not supposed to be talking to the officials,” he said.
O’Neill did say he had never heard of a manager drawing a technical foul “in the history of basketball.”
O’Neill said he would wait until next summer to decide whether to hire a new manager to replace Holt, whom O’Neill did not hire when he joined the team in June, succeeding Tim Floyd.
Holt, who is not related to former USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt, also worked with the USC football team in the 2006-07 season and coached high school basketball during the 2004-05 season at Corona del Mar.