ALBANY — UAlbany officials remained tight-lipped Tuesday about the university’s investigation into into an alleged incident involving men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings and a player.
Meanwhile, the team’s play-by-play announcer identified the player involved as Luke Fizulich, a walk-on guard who appeared not to be with the Great Danes for their final two games of the 2021-22 season and was the program’s first player this offseason to enter into the NCAA transfer portal.
Shortly after a report Monday from Stadium’s college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman that UAlbany was investigating an alleged incident that involved physical contact between Killings and a player prior to an early season game, the school confirmed that “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.”
Contacted Tuesday by The Daily Gazette with questions related to the men’s basketball program and the school’s investigation, a university spokesperson referred back to Monday’s statement and didn’t address whether Killings is currently on leave from the program — as Goodman reported Monday — and if there is any timeline for the approximately month-old probe’s conclusion.
“The university cannot comment on the men’s basketball situation beyond the statement released Monday evening,” UAlbany Director of Communications Jordan Carleo-Evangelist wrote in reply to The Daily Gazette. “I can say, however, that the University initiated its investigation immediately upon being notified of the complaint and has taken timely and appropriate action at every stage as additional information has become available.”
UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson and Killings did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment, while an athletic department spokesperson declined to comment.
WNYT Sports Director Rodger Wyland, the play-by-play announcer for UAlbany basketball and football, said Tuesday during his “Big Board Sports” radio show on WTMM-FM that Fizulich was the player involved in the incident. Fizulich did not respond Tuesday to multiple requests for comment, but a source with knowledge of the situation also identified Fizulich to The Daily Gazette as the player and that the alleged incident occurred before one of the team’s games in Kentucky played Nov. 20, 22 and 24. Those were the team’s fourth, fifth and sixth games in a 13-18 campaign, the program’s fourth-consecutive losing season.
Fizulich was a walk-on player with the Great Danes who had transferred last offseason to UAlbany from Marquette, where Killings had served as associate head coach prior to his March 2021 hire at UAlbany of the America East Conference. Fizulich appeared in 22 games, and last played for the Great Danes in their Feb. 26 loss at Stony Brook. Fizulich, a 6-foot-2 guard from New Jersey, did not appear to be with the team for its final two games, which were both losses against Hartford.
UAlbany’s investigation, the school has said, started in late February. Killings did coach each of the team’s 31 games this season, including at least two games — the club’s March contests — after the university’s investigation started. UAlbany’s season ended March 6.
Following Will Brown’s dismissal after two decades leading the program, Killings signed a five-year contract to guide the Great Danes last March. The 40-year-old’s current rate of pay, according to the database available at www.seethroughny.net, is $372,300.
A native of Amherst, Massachusetts, Killings spent three seasons at Marquette before he was hired at UAlbany. 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.
A source with knowledge of the situation had confirmed Monday to The Daily Gazette that each of the UAlbany players and coaches had been interviewed as part of the school’s investigation. On Tuesday, forward Jarvis Doles became the third Great Danes player to enter into the NCAA transfer portal this offseason, joining Fizulich and all-conference guard Jamel Horton. Along with Fizulich, Doles did not respond Tuesday to an interview request, while Horton declined to comment beyond a statement he released on social media expressing appreciation for his two seasons spent playing for the school.
With those three players in the transfer portal and several 2021-22 players either out of playing eligibility or requiring an NCAA waiver to play next season, UAlbany currently only has seven scholarship players and one walk-on player able to return next season.
The club has two recruits committed to join it next season in Hudson Falls native Jonathan Beagle and Amsterdam native Marcus Jackson. Beagle declined to comment Tuesday when asked if his commitment stands given this week’s developments with the men’s basketball program, while Jackson did not respond to a request for comment.
BRYANT JOINING AMERICA EAST
The America East Conference, which is set to lose Hartford and Stony Brook after this academic year, announced Tuesday that Bryant will join the league for the 2022-23 competition seasons.
Bryant is currently a member of the Northeast Conference.
Stony Brook is set later this year to become a full member of the Colonial Athletic Association after — like UAlbany — previously playing football in the conference since the America East does not sponsor that sport.
Hartford is transitioning its athletic programs from the Division I level to Division III.
For the 2022-23 academic year, full members of the America East project to include UAlbany, Binghamton, Bryant, Maine, UMass Lowell, New Hampshire, NJIT, UMBC, Vermont.