USC men's basketball Coach Kevin O'Neill said after his team's loss at Oregon Saturday that he had fired team manager Stan Holt, who drew a technical foul late in the game.
He called The Times shortly thereafter, saying he wasn't sure what move to make, but after his team's two-hour flight from Portland to Los Angeles on Saturday night, he made if official: Holt was gone.
When asked Monday if it was a difficult decision, O'Neill said: "Not really. Everybody knows they're not supposed to be talking to the officials."
The call came with 4 minutes, 35 seconds left and Oregon leading USC, 49-47. Trojans forward Nikola Vucevic missed a three-point attempt and Oregon's Teondre Williams grabbed the rebound.
Official Bobby McRoy immediately pointed toward Holt, a third-year graduate student manager, and called on USC a Class A technical foul, which is often called for unsportsmanlike conduct and is considered more severe than a Class B technical foul.
"The referee told me he was screaming obscenities at him," O'Neill said after the game.
Oregon converted the ensuing free throws, starting a 13-3 run that would, in effect, put the game out of USC's reach.
"When the whistle blew, I was the most stunned guy in the building," O'Neill said Monday of the call, adding that he had never heard of a manager being called for a technical foul "in the history of basketball."
"I've heard trainers get T'd in the NBA," said O'Neill, who coached in the NBA for eight years. "I've heard of assistants get T'd. I've never heard of this."
O'Neill said he did not receive a warning from McRoy before the call was made.
O'Neill also said he had no previous issues with Holt, who was not among the three assistants whom O'Neill hired when he became the head coach this June, replacing Tim Floyd.
"I don't mind guys ever cheering for the team," he said. "They should. But no one should ever speak to the officials but me."
Holt, who is not related to former USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt, worked with the USC football team during the 2006-2007 season and coached high school basketball during the 20004-2005 season at Corona del Mar.
Although O'Neill said immediately after the game that Holt was fired, he change his mind shortly thereafter, explaining Monday that he debated the decision "because I wanted to make sure I was thinking clearly away from the game," he said.
-- Baxter Holmes