UAlbany confirms investigation involving men’s basketball program; report says it concerns alleged physical contact between coach Killings, player

UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings in January
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UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings in January

Following a news report regarding alleged physical contact between UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings and an unidentified Great Danes player, the school confirmed Monday night that it is conducting an investigation into “an incident alleged to have occurred just prior to a men’s basketball road game in late November” of the 2021-22 season.

The school’s confirmation of the investigation did not name Killings or offer many specifics regarding the subject of the investigation.

Prior to the university’s acknowledgment of an investigation involving its men’s basketball program, Jeff Goodman of Stadium had reported Monday evening that the investigation stemmed from an alleged incident that “involves Killings striking a player,” but that Killings has “claim[ed] it was accidental.” The media report also said that “Killings has been away from the team the last few weeks on leave.”

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Killings and UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Gazette, while UAlbany deputy athletic director Vic Cegles — the department’s men’s basketball supervisor — declined to comment.

Monday’s full statement from the university’s media relations department reads: “In late February, the University’s Office of Employee Relations was made aware of an incident alleged to have occurred just prior to a men’s basketball road game in late November 2021. Consistent with campus policy and practice, the University immediately began a thorough and impartial investigation. Because this process is ongoing, the University cannot comment further at this time.”

The Great Danes’ campaign concluded March 6 with a loss to Hartford in the America East Conference quarterfinals. Killings served as the team’s head coach for all of its games this past season, including for multiple games after the school said its investigation started.

The school’s statement Monday night did not address if Killings is currently on any type of leave, as Stadium’s report said.

UAlbany played four games away from its home SEFCU Arena in November. The Great Danes played at La Salle on Nov. 13, then played Nov. 20 at Eastern Kentucky, Nov. 22 at Kentucky and Nov. 24 against Eastern Illinois in a game played at Eastern Kentucky. The Great Danes lost the first three of those games and defeated Eastern Illinois to earn Killings his first win as a head coach. Those November road games were the second, fourth, fifth and sixth contests in a 31-game season.

A source with knowledge of the situation told The Daily Gazette that all of UAlbany’s players have been interviewed as part of the school investigation. 

Killings was given a five-year contract when he was hired in March 2021 to succeed Will Brown, who coached the Great Danes for two decades and led them to five NCAA tournament appearances. Brown was dismissed following the 2020-21 season.

With Killings at the helm, UAlbany finished 13-18 during the 2021-22 season for the program’s fourth-consecutive losing season.

According to the database available at www.seethroughny.net, Killings’ rate of pay is $372,300.

Early Monday, prior to the school’s investigation becoming publicly known, a second UAlbany player entered into the NCAA transfer portal. Jamel Horton, a 6-foot-4 guard from Queens, entered into the portal after a 2021-22 season that saw him named America East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and earn a second-team all-conference selection. Horton averaged a team-leading 12.8 points and 3.9 assists per game for UAlbany. Horton also entered into the NCAA transfer portal after the 2020-21 season, but opted to return to UAlbany for his senior season. He has one remaining season of playing eligibility.

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When contacted Monday, Horton declined to comment.

Walk-on guard Luke Fizulich was the first Great Danes to enter into the transfer portal this offseason.

Before heading to UAlbany last offseason, Fizulich had spent the 2020-21 season at Marquette where Killings was an associate head coach. A native of Amherst, Massachusetts, Killings spent three total seasons at Marquette. Prior to that, the 40-year-old also worked at Boston University, UConn and Temple at the college level, and also worked with the then-Charlotte Bobcats and in the NBA’s then-D-League.

Killings started his college career at UMass before graduating from Hampton University in 2003.

Monday’s development regarding the UAlbany men’s basketball program came a day after Marcus Jackson, an Amsterdam native who starred at Albany Academy, committed to join the Great Danes for the 2022-23 season. UAlbany’s incoming class of recruits currently consists of Jackson and 6-foot-9 center Jonathan Beagle who is a Hudson Falls native.

The investigation involving the UAlbany men’s basketball is the second one of a high-profile college athletics program in the Capital Region this year. In January, Union College placed men’s hockey head coach Rick Bennett on paid administrative leave after the school received “an allegation about his coaching style and practices,” and Bennett resigned eight days later after the school’s investigation “substantiated” the allegation, which was not disclosed. Bennett is the Union program’s all-time winningest coach and led the Dutchmen to a national championship in 2014.

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