ALBANY — UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings pleaded not guilty on Monday to an assault charge stemming from a locker room incident in November 2021 that led to Killings serving a five-game suspension earlier this season, according to his attorney Christopher Spedding.
Killings was arraigned virtually in Madison County (Ky.) District Court on a charge of 4th degree assault with no visible injury, a Class A misdemeanor.
He is being represented in this case by the Lexington, Ky.-based Spedding and co-counsel Steve Schroering. In a text, Spedding said the case will be revisited on March 20. That’s nine days after the America East tournament concludes.
The player involved in the incident, Luke Fizulich, had also filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of New York in November against Killings, UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson and the university.
The charge in Kentucky was filed in response to an incident prior to a Nov. 24, 2021 game against Eastern Illinois in Richmond, Kentucky. UAlbany officials received a complaint about the incident on Feb. 27 of last year, and launched an investigation that resulted in substantiation of “inappropriate physical contact between Coach Killings and a student-athlete” in a pre-game hype circle.
As a result of the investigation, Killings was ordered to serve a five-game suspension during the 2022-23 season and pay a $25,000 fine in the form of donations to local not-for-profit organizations.
After the assault charge was filed in Kentucky on Friday, UAlbany issued a statement in response to a request for comment from The Daily Gazette related to the charge:
“The University’s understanding is that the underlying allegation is substantively the same information reported to the University in February 2022, which triggered UAlbany’s personnel investigation and resulted in Coach Killings serving a five-game suspension and paying a $25,000 fine last year.
“At this time, the University is not aware of any additional information that would result in a change in Coach Killings’ status. Should additional information become available, the University will respond appropriately.”
Fizulich, a walk-on player, transferred to UAlbany from Marquette ahead of the 2021-22 season when Killings — previously a Marquette assistant — was hired at UAlbany to replace Will Brown as head coach after Brown was dismissed following a two-decade tenure that included five NCAA tournament appearances.
After the complaint against Killings with the university was filed on Feb. 27, Fizulich was not with the program for its final two games of the season and entered into the NCAA transfer portal after the season ended.
In a statement on Friday, Fizulich’s attorney Stuart Bernstein of Nesenoff and Miltenberg, LLP, said, “We are pleased that the State of Kentucky is taking action to hold Coach Killings criminally accountable for viciously and publicly assaulting a student athlete in their state. The assault itself is not in question, as Coach Killings has admitted it. This is inexcusable conduct for a Division I college coach and SUNY Albany, to our knowledge, was correctly intending to terminate Coach Killings for the physical assault of a student athlete — until it appears community pressure made them reverse their initial decision. All parties need to be held responsible for the harm they have inflicted on Mr. Fizulich.”
Contact Mike MacAdam at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.