W. Kentucky fires hoops coach McDonald
Western Kentucky fired basketball coach Ken McDonald on Friday, a day after the Hilltoppers lost 72-70 to Louisiana-Lafayette on a play where the referees failed to notice six players on the court for the game-winning basket.
"I have recommended to President Gary Ransdell that Ken McDonald no longer serve as our head men's basketball coach, and he has agreed and supports my decision," said WKU athletic director Ross Bjork.
"President Ransdell and I met with Coach McDonald this morning to inform him of the decision, and then we met with and informed the entire men's basketball staff. I also met with our student-athletes and discussed the reasons for our conclusion and told them that we are committed to all of them as students and athletes here at WKU, and we owe them the 'great program' they signed up for."
Assistant Ray Harper was promoted to interim head coach of the Hilltoppers, who are 5-11 this season. McDonald was 67-49 in four seasons at WKU.
Meanwhile, the Sun Belt Conference was reviewing Thursday night's embarrassing error by referees, which according to the rules could not be corrected after the fact.
Sun Belt commissioner Mike Wood told ESPN the three veteran officials — Brad Gaston, Roger Ayers and Reinaldo Acosta — could face suspension over the error. Wood also said the scorekeeper should have been aware there was a sixth Ragin' Cajun on the court and alerted the referees.
The referees should have assessed Louisiana-Lafayette with a technical foul, which would have given the Hilltoppers two free throws and possession with the game tied at 70 and just 21 seconds left.
Wood said he received a call from officials after the game had ended asking if they could correct the error, which was brought to their attention after the game.
"There are a whole bunch of times where there are six or seven guys on the court and it is technically a violation of the rule," Wood said. "You can blow the whistle and stop the play. But you can't go to the monitor and do it retroactively."
Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton drove to the basket and scored the game-winner with 3.6 seconds left, with no one appearing to notice the sixth player on the court. The Hilltoppers then inbounded the ball and missed a desperation half-court heave at the buzzer.