By Misty Poe
Times West Virginian
A moment of frustration for a student-athlete has forever been captured on film, and social media sites are abuzz.
After a fourth foul in Monday night’s exhibition game against West Virginia University, Fairmont State’s Martins Abele received a technical foul for throwing his mouth piece at his own bench. Fouled out, Abele returned to the bench and reacted to the chanting WVU student section by making inappropriate hand gestures with both middle fingers.
School officials say that Abele, the 7-foot, 280-pound senior from Saldus, Latvia, has been disciplined for the action. Head FSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said Abele will sit out some games.
“It will be handled internally within our basketball program, and he will be suspended for games,” Calhoun said.
Chants from the WVU student section included “You can’t do that” and “Right, left, right, left,” as Abele headed to the bench.
The gesture was captured by videographers for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and the image immediately began to circulate through cyberspace during Monday’s exhibition game at the Coliseum between the two schools.
“We’re all very embarrassed about what happened (Monday) night,” said Tim McNeely, athletic director for FSU. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be showcased on television and on Root Sports, and we are not very happy with the situation that happened the way it did.
“I met with Coach (Jerrod) Calhoun and Dr. Maria Rose and we agreed as an administration, an athletic department and a coaching staff, this is behavior that will not be tolerated and we will very quickly and succinctly apply necessary discipline and not tolerate this type of behavior going forward,” McNeely said.
McNeely said the incident was a way to start the dialogue between the sports administration and student-athletes about what is and is not appropriate during games.
“Again, this is not the type of light we want to be viewed in and gives another opportunity to share expected behavior with our student-athletes,” McNeely said.
McNeely, who was named athletic director in March, said he would not go into specific details about the punishment Abele will face following the televised incident.
“Because it’s a student-athlete, and we’ve got to be sensitive to that, we’re not going to get into the specifics of the actual discipline,” he said. “But as a school, an athletic department and also frankly as a conference — I spoke with commissioner Reid Amos at the MEC — all are in agreement that the discipline being implemented is more than appropriate and will set a standard for student-athletes going forward.”
Email Misty Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @MistyPoeTWV.