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Badgers’ Coach Silent on Suspension

October 21, 1997

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett jokingly donned a construction hard hat with a Badgers emblem on the side when he met with reporters Monday.

He wanted to be prepared for difficult questions about last week’s suspension of forward Sam Okey for unspecified rule violations.

Bennett answered general questions but restated his position that specific details of Okey’s offense would not be discussed.

However, Madison station WKOW-TV disclosed Monday evening that police had stopped Okey in a tavern incident the night of Aug. 12.

The report said Okey, who turns 21 on Nov. 4, was picked up along with two women, one 19 and one 20, after police were called to a Madison tavern. Officer Phil Moore’s report said a caller told police that underage drinkers were in the tavern, and the caller said one of them was Okey.

Another officer who questioned the women decided not to cite them for any offense.

Moore, who questioned Okey, decided to write a citation for entering a tavern while underage, but he agreed to hold it until Okey’s birthday and destroy it if he does not see Okey in a tavern prior to that date.

In June 1996, Okey was arrested in Whitewater for entering a tavern with a fake identification and paid a fine of $334.50.

Bennett had suspended Okey on Friday for two weeks of practice, two exhibition games and the Badgers’ regular-season games against Marquette on Nov. 14 and Illinois State on Nov. 18, for violating unspecified team rules.

``I have found in situations involving discipline over the years that the hardest punishment is separation from the game and teammates,″ Bennett said.

Bennett was unable to assess if the punishment would serve its purpose.

``Time will tell,″ he said.

Bennett said that Mark Vershaw, a 6-foot-9 freshman, and Andy Kowske, a 6-8 freshman, will split practice time at Okey’s small forward spot.

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