ISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Last night's game between fourth-ranked Massachusetts and Rutgers was suspended indefinitely prior to the start of the second half after an on-court demonstration by approximately 150 protesters, apparently in reaction to controversial remarks made by Rutgers president Francis L. Lawrence.
Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno said the decision to suspend the game was in compliance with NCAA rules and made in the interest of the athletes' safety. She instructed both teams to leave the building once the suspension officially was announced at 9:38.
No arrests or injuries were reported.
A decision on when to resume the game is expected today, but Bruno said, ''I would doubt the game would be rescheduled this week."
Lawrence's controversial remarks were made at a faculty meeting Nov. 11 but only recently leaked to news organizations.
While the main topic of the meeting was post-tenure review, Lawrence digressed and spoke about accountability and evaluation processes. Using blacks as an example, he said their average SAT score is 750, and added, "Do we set standards in the future so that we don't admit anybody with the national test? Or do we deal with a disadvantaged population that doesn't have the genetic, hereditary background to have a higher average?"
The statement went unquestioned by more than 30 faculty members in attendance, but last week the Rutgers Council of the American Association of University Professors released a tape of the meeting to 100 department representatives for the purpose of spreading the conversation on post-tenure review.
In response to the controversy, Lawrence said the view that "genetic and hereditary factors determine ability and achievement is dead wrong. . . . What I intended to say was that standardized tests should not be used to exclude disadvantaged students on the trumped-up grounds that such tests measure inherent ability, because I believe they do not."
While state assembly members, faculty and some students expressed support for Lawrence, others expressed outrage.
New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman said last week that Lawrence's future as president may be in doubt unless he can "make a case why this isn't something that should have more serious ramifications."
Yesterday's edition of the student newspaper, the Daily Targum, mentioned a possible protest, and Scarlet Knights guard Damon Santiago said he would take part.
The game, played before the first sellout (8,526) at Rutgers since 1991, went on without incident in the first half. Rutgers led by as many as 8 points and was still ahead, 31-29, at halftime.
At 9:13, just as the second half was set to begin, a black woman walked onto the floor and sat in the midcourt circle. Players were ordered back to their benches and security guards approached the woman. Other individuals began emerging from the stands and forming rows alongside the woman.
More persons, believed to be students, took the floor carrying signs and banners. Those who remained in their seats began booing and shouting expletives, and the players were ordered into the locker rooms.
At 9:20, many who remainded in the crowd began chanting, "Off the floor!" The protesters, who by then numbered about 100, shouted back, "Hell no, we won't go!"
By about 9:26, the group, made up mostly of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, was up to approximately 150. When some turned to speak to the media, they were ordered to remain silent by their companions.
"The protest was organized today," said a woman named Felicia, who identified herself as a student and declined to give her last name. "We wanted Rutgers to play the game, but it was more important to do what we thought we had to do."
Bruno and the UMass assistant coaches said they got wind of the protest during yesterday's shootaround.
"Everyone didn't know what was going to happen," said UMass assistant coach Bill Bayno. "We had no control over it. I feel bad for the players.
"Officials were talking about the possibility of coming out to begin the game again, but I don't know exactly what the details of the discussion were. I know there was a representative of the students in there talking to the Rutgers team. We were just kicking back waiting to see what was going to happen."
Rutgers vice president for student affairs Roselle L. Wilson, who spoke with the students on the court during the protest, said there were no arrests because the action was nonviolent. She said the school learned of a possible protest Monday night and added extra security.
MHERST -- Tuesday night's suspended game between Rutgers and the University of Massachusetts will resume at "the point of interruption" March 2 at the Palestra in Philadelphia, Atlantic 10 Conference commissioner Linda Bruno said yesterday.
The game was halted prior to the second half after about 150 students staged an on-court demonstration, apparently in protest of controversial racial remarks made by Rutgers president Francis L. Lawrence.
The March 2 resumption, set for an 8 p.m. tipoff, will begin with Rutgers up, 31-29, as it was at halftime Tuesday.
"It's not going to be fun to play it, but it's not fair for Rutgers to forfeit when they were up 2 at the half," said UMass coach John Calipari during an interview with ESPN. "I told Bobby Wenzel, the Rutgers coach that if they beat us for the next 20 minutes, they should win."
"Both athletic directors and coaches made it clear they wanted this game to be resumed, and every effort was made to find a date that would accommodate both teams," said Bruno.
"The Palestra was chosen to accommodate travel plans for both teams as they travel to the Atlantic 10 tournament Championship, which will begin two days later in the Palestra."
UMass, ranked fourth nationally, leads the league. Should it finish first, it will receive a first-round bye and play its first tournament game March 5.
It would have been difficult to fit the game into the Minutemen's remaining schedule, as most of the seven games are separated by one or two days.
Rutgers has three home games before March 2.
Center Marcus Camby (out with a hamstring strain) was not on the UMass roster Tuesday. If he plays March 2, the Minutemen would receive an automatic technical foul.
Calipari said his players' primary concerns during the protest were for family members in the audience. "We didn't know if the situation was going to escalate," said Calipari, who added that his team heard of a possible protest Tuesday morning. "We were told what the source of the possible protest was about, and the players were fine.
"During the protest, Coach Wenzel talked to my team about what was going on, and I talked to his team and told him we would finish the game."
UMass captains Lou Roe and Derek Kellogg issued statements on behalf of the players, who declined further comment on the controversy. "It's just fair that the game be played," said Kellogg. "The protest should not affect the outcome of the game."
"I'm glad the game wasn't forfeited," said Roe, whose mother and daughter were in the audience. "It's only fair that they have an opportunity to win and we have an opportunity to win."
UMass athletic director Bob Marcum said he is pleased with the decision and added he has no concerns over whether another protest will occur March 2 if the issue at Rutgers isn't resolved.
"You can't say what might happen, but I don't think this is about UMass," said Marcum. "We just happened to be their opponent that night."
oming today to an arena near you, if you happen to be in Philadelphia. Your first video tape/live college basketball game. Courtesy of the Atlantic 10 Conference: Rutgers vs. Massachusetts.
Check this out for all-time weirdness. The second half of the game between UMass and Rutgers, suspended Feb. 7 because of a student protest, will be completed this afternoon at the Spectrum in Philadelphia at 4 p.m.
As a pregame warmup for the fans who show up -- not more than several hundred are expected to pay the $6 to watch the final 20 minutes -- the Spectrum will show a tape of the first half on the scoreboard and then present the second half live.
Even that will be touched with the unusual. Three weeks ago, UMass center Marcus Camby was on the injured list, nursing a strained left hamstring. He will play this afternoon, after Rutgers attempts two technical foul shots because UMass is using a player who was not in the scorebook when the game started.
Minuteman guard Mike Williams, who played in the first half, will not play today. Last week, coach John Calipari suspended him for the remainder of the season for violating team rules.
Rutgers center Charles Jones, the Scarlet Knights' leading scorer, also played in the first half. He will not be around this afternoon, having been suspended by coach Bob Wenzel for academic reasons.
The chain of confusion began when approximately 150 students came onto the court at the Rutgers Athletic Center at halftime to protest racially insensitive remarks made by school president Francis L. Lawrence in November. When the students refused to leave, the game was suspended with UMass trailing, 31-29.
Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno considered several options: forfeiting the game to UMass; resuming the contest at Rutgers; or completing the game at a neutral site.
Bruno chose Door No. 3, deciding to conclude the game in Philadelphia, which seemed the most convenient neutral site, considering the Atlantic 10 tournament begins at the Palestra tomorrow.
Calipari will use the Rutgers game as a warmup for his top-seeded and eighth-ranked Minutemen (22-4, 12-3 Atlantic 10), who play the winner of tomorrow's Duquesne-Rhode Island first-rounder in Sunday night's quarterfinals.
Rutgers (12-13, 7-8) needs to win to maintain the sixth seed in the tournament.
"My question is," said Calipari, "is halftime going to be at 10 minutes? I don't know how it's going to be. We're going to prepare like it's a regular game."
Wenzel would have preferred the game be continued at Rutgers, where a sellout crowd of 9,000 watched the first half.
Although his team was ahead, it had that lead against a UMass team playing without Camby. "When Camby plays," said Wenzel, "they don't lose."
HILADELPHIA -- Step aside, Jane Fonda. You too, Tamilee Webb. Yesterday the CoreStates Spectrum was the stage for the latest in cardiovascular exercise.
Massachusetts vs. Rutgers: the 20-minute workout.
The teams completed their Feb. 7 suspended game before an audience of 445 that paid $6 each (a fraction of the cost of an exercise video) to watch a half of basketball.
UMass, which entered down by 2, staged 20 minutes of hell -- including a 17-0 run midway through -- en route to a 77-62 Atlantic 10 rout.
The eighth-ranked Minutemen finish the regular season 23-5 overall, 13-3 in the A-10. The champs have a first-round bye in this weekend's league tournament.Tomorrow UMass plays the winner of today's matchup between ninth- seeded Rhode Island and eight-seeded Duquesne.
As a result of the loss, the Scarlet Knights (12-14, 7-9) will be seeded seventh and will play second-seeded George Washington tomorrow.
The game was suspended after 150 Rutgers students staged an on-court demonstration in protest of controversial racial comments made by university president Francis Lawrence.
The resumption was originally slated for March 2 at the Palestra but was moved because of scheduling conflicts. Spectrum officials declined to say how much it cost to stage yesterday's event.
Both teams missed players who saw action in the first half, as UMass guard Mike Williams and Rutgers guard Charles Jones have been suspended for the remainder of the season.
UMass center Marcus Camby did not play in the first half because of a hamstring strain. UMass was assessed a two-shot technical foul upon his insertion into the lineup with 16:53 left yesterday because his name did not appear in the scorebook.
Camby made up for the technicals with a team-high 12 points, scoring more points in 20 minutes than any other player for the entire game.
"I'm still trying to decide whether those two free throws were worth Marcus Camby," joked coach John Calipari. "He was good, as was Lou Roe 11 points, 10 boards.
"We can't play much better than that. We played as well as we could play. Right now, as far as our conference is concerned, I think Rutgers is playing as good as any team going into the tournament. They just happened to hit a good team today."
Because the contest merely decided the tournament's sixth and seventh seeds, it had the pregame suspense of a step-aerobics class.
It was obvious early on that the 18,000-seat arena would not come close to being a quarter full.
An hour before the opening of the ticket offices, there was a crowd camped around the Spectrum main entrance -- armed with tents, sleeping bags and tailgating supplies.
Turns out they were awaiting today's sale of tickets for an April 28 Van Halen concert.
UMass, which played two 20-minute games in the Buckler Invitational in France, was well prepared yesterday. "I almost had the staff put them through a half of practice before the game," said Calipari.
"A 20-minute game is hard. You don't know what to predict because you don't know what the other team is going to do."
Rutgers, which entered leading, 31-29, took a 41-37 advantage with 16:27 left. The Knights scored two technical free throws when Camby came in, then got a 3-point basket from guard Rich Ashmeade on the possession that followed.
Camby offset the technical with back-to-back buckets to tie the game with 15:35 left. Rutgers answered with a trey by Robin James, but Camby and Roe scored 4 points apiece in a 13-4 run to put UMass up, 54-48, with 10:50 left.
Rutgers cut the lead to 59-55 with 8:01 left. Then UMass pulled away. Forward Tyrone Weeks scored on a feed from forward Rigoberto Nunez. Guard Derek Kellogg stole the ball, then scored on a layup -- 63-55, UMass.
After two missed Rutgers free throws, Camby scored on a two-handed dunk in heavy traffic (consult a doctor before attempting this move) to put the Minutemen up, 65-55, with 6:01 left. With 4:41 left, Kellogg drained a 3-point basket to give UMass a 70-55 margin.
Weeks ended the run with two free throws with 2:22 left, making it 76-55. The rest of the game was difficult to stomach without rock-hard abdominals.
"We knew we couldn't have a slow start," said Camby. "I came in after the technical foul shots and helped turn things around."
Calipari doesn't anticipate another 20-minute workout. "I think we have an advantage in that area," he said. "For some reason, I don't know -- unless we can get a student protest to stop a game, I'm not so sure."
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||62|
RUTGERS (62) -- Rich Ashmeade 5-8 1-4 13, Albert Karner 2-7 6-6 10, Pete Marcotte 0-1 0-0 0, Damon Santiago 3-6 0-0 6, Robin James 1-3 0-3 3, Damion Haskett 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Kolbasovsky 6-11 6-9 18, Jamal Phillips 4-8 1-2 9, Charles Jones 0-5 1-2 1, Eriq Mason 0-0 0-0 0, Eric Clark 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS: 22-53 (41.5%) 15-26 (57.7%) 62.
HALFTIME: Rutgers 31, Massachusetts 29. 3-POINTERS: Massachusetts 6-21 (Padilla 2-4, Travieso 2-6, Kellogg 2-8, Dingle 0-1, Williams 0-2), Rutgers 3-13 (Ashmeade 2-2, James 1-3, Marcotte 0-1, Karner 0-2, Santiago 0-2, Jones 0-3). REBOUNDS: Massachusetts 37 (Roe 10), Rutgers 30 (Kolbasovsky 9). ASSISTS: Massachusetts 20 (Padilla 4), Rutgers 16 (Karner, Santiago 4). FOULED OUT: None. TECHNICAL FOULS: Massachusetts bench 1. TOTAL FOULS: Massachusetts 22, Rutgers 21. ATTENDANCE: 8,526. RECORDS: Massachusetts 13-3/23-4, Rutgers 7-9/12-14.
Massachusetts 29 48 -- 77 Rutgers 31 31 -- 62