Nevada coach fined $10K for 2 unsportsmanlike penalties
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada coach Brian Polian was fined $10,000 by his own school Tuesday after he was called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during Saturday’s 44-20 loss to Arizona.
Athletic director Doug Knuth announced the fine in a statement, calling the third-year coach’s behavior unacceptable and out of line with university standards.
In addition to the fine, the school will place an administration official on the sidelines during games and Polian will be subject to additional reporting requirements to the athletic director, Knuth said.
The Mountain West Conference publicly reprimanded Polian for criticizing the officiating after Nevada beat UNLV 49-27 last November, warning at the time that a second offense could mean stiffer penalties. So far, league officials have taken no formal independent action related to the latest incident.
Polian, 40, son of former NFL executive Bill Polian, said after Saturday’s game he was especially upset about an illegal formation call that wiped out a Nevada touchdown.
Polian said he didn’t know why he was penalized again later during the game in Reno, where he screamed and chased referees along the sideline several times. He said he apologized to his team and Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez for his outburst.
Nevada (1-1), which plays Saturday at No. 17 Texas A&M, was penalized nine times for 105 yards in the loss to the Pac-12′s Wildcats. Arizona, which led 14-0 less than 6 minutes into the game and is ranked 20th in this week’s AP Poll, had three penalties for 30 yards.
Knuth said Tuesday he believes Polian “is moving the football program in the right direction, academically, athletically and socially.”
“Unfortunately, his sideline behavior and interaction with officials — regardless of being right or wrong about officiating decisions — is not aligned with the values of Wolf Pack athletics or the university,” Knuth said.
“These sanctions send a strong message to Brian, and to our fans, our university and conference administration, and to officials working our games, that we do not tolerate unsportsmanlike behavior,” he said.
Javan Hedlund, the associate commissioner for communications for the Mountain West Conference, said the league itself has suspended coaches but he wasn’t aware of any time previously when it has fined them individually for violating sportsmanship rules.
“It’s something the University of Nevada thought they wanted and we don’t overrule schools in that case,” Hedlund told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
Polian, who served as an assistant at Notre Dame, Stanford and Texas A&M before succeeding Chris Ault at Nevada in 2013, told reporters after Saturday’s game he apologized to his players and took responsibility for both 15-yard infractions.
“I let them down, no doubt about that,” he said. “Clearly, I’ve earned myself a little bit of a rep, and that is nobody’s fault but mine.”
“The easy story right now is that I am a hothead and all that stuff, and I guess I can understand that,” Polian said. “I am incredibly passionate about this job. I am incredibly passionate about our young people. I don’t apologize for my passion. I don’t apologize for my energy. I’ve got to do a better job of focusing,”
Knuth said neither he nor Polian would have any further comment.