PHILADELPHIA — Holy Family men’s basketball coach John O’Connor has resigned following his conflict with former player Matt Kravchuk.
Holy Family forward Sam Mushman told the Associated Press that O’Connor informed the team on Thursday he would step down.
The decision came after O’Connor learned he will not face criminal charges from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
“I would have thought it would have gone a little longer before we found a solution,” Mushman said by phone. “It was obviously very upsetting to hear. I’m still kind of, not in shock, but just taking it all in right now.”
A Holy Family spokesman and O’Connor’s lawyer both declined comment.
O’Connor apologized to Kravchuk when they appeared Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” On the morning show, O’Connor apologized. Kravchuk did not accept it.
Mushman said that O’Connor told the team in person. Mushman wanted to speak out because, except for “one or two people who are indifferent” the team backs O’Connor and wanted him to return.
“We never thought the situation would have gotten as blown out of proportion as it has,” Mushman said.
According to a police report filed on Feb. 11, Kravchuk said he was grabbed and elbowed in the face by O’Connor, a move that allegedly resulted in a bloody nose and a bruised lip. The office’s Private Criminal Complaints Unit reviewed the matter, and determined the event does not constitute a prosecutable criminal offense.
On GMA, Kravchuk said O’Connor apologized in a private meeting after the practice, saying he’d crossed the line. Kravchuk said he reported it to athletic director Sandra Michael, and was told it would be dealt with. He returned to practice. But then, after no apparent action was taken, he talked to Michael again, and she refused to divulge what action was taken.
O’Connor, on the show, repeatedly called the encounter an accident, saying he also “nudged” Kravchuk with his foot to keep the drill going.
O’Connor said he met with Michael, and they went through the tape together about what was appropriate and what wasn’t.
“I just feel that I was coach and I was trying to get my team more competitive and in doing so, I made a mistake,” he said. “I would take those 30 seconds back if I could.”
Kravchuk wasn’t particularly clear with what he wants the school to do.
“I just want some action taken,” he said. “I felt the university owed it to me to take some sort of action and when they didn’t, I took it to the police.”
The coach and player then addressed each other.
O’Connor told Kravchuk, “I was just trying to make us a better team. … I’m really sorry that it happened. If I could take it back, I certainly would.”
Kravchuk responded, “It’s kind of hard to accept your apology just because you claim it’s justified and you weren’t crossing the line.”
Kravchuk said he attended the school to play basketball and now he couldn’t, because of his wrist injury. He also said he couldn’t play for O’Connor.
“As your player I’m supposed to be able to respect you,” he said, “and I don’t feel I can do that anymore.”
Holy Family finishes the Division II regular season Friday at Felician College.
Mushman said the team considered some kind of tribute to their coach, but will simply play in his honor.
“We all know how we feel about him as a team,” Mushman said. “It doesn’t have to be said. We’ve spoken out in the news. We’ve written a team letter together. He knows we bought in to what he was trying to do.”