PHILADELPHIA - His suspension over, John Chaney will be back to coach Temple in the NIT. Whether he's back for good is still in question.
Chaney returns Tuesday night for the Owls'(16-13) first-round game at Virginia Tech (15-13) following a three-week suspension for sending in a player to commit hard fouls that left Saint Joseph's senior John Bryant with a broken arm.
The 73-year-old Hall of Fame coach suspended himself for one game before the school extended the punishment to three games after the extent of Bryant's injury was discovered. Chaney then banned himself from the sideline for the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Before leaving for Virginia on Monday, Chaney thanked his assistants for the job they did in his place and congratulated all the teams playing in both NCAA tournaments, especially Temple's women's team. He had no other comment.
Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw declined to discuss any conditions of Chaney's return.
"We will all get together at the end of the season and talk about the future," Bradshaw said.
Top assistant Dan Liebovitz, who went 3-2 in Chaney's absence, said the coach has been at every home practice and "pretty much has been his usual self." Liebovitz said the players have moved on.
"In their eyes, it's a dead issue at this point," he said. "We've done everything we can as a university to spread our sympathy and our apologies."
Saint Joseph's (19-11) is also in the NIT. The Hawks play Hofstra (21-8) on Wednesday.
In a 63-56 loss to Saint Joseph's on Feb. 22, Chaney used Nehemiah Ingram - a player the coach called a "goon" - to "send a message" by committing hard fouls. Ingram fouled out in four minutes, including the hit on Bryant that left the senior sprawled on the court for several minutes. An MRI later revealed he had a broken arm.
Chaney apologized to Bryant and his family and offered to pay his medical bills. Chaney also apologized to both schools and the conference.
Hawks coach Phil Martelli said the possibility of Chaney coaching in the NIT "doesn't mean anything to me." Martelli also didn't rule out a possible return by Bryant if the Hawks advanced to the NIT championship.
The two Atlantic 10 teams have not played each other since the Feb. 22 game, though they came close in the conference tournament. The Hawks advanced to the title game, but the Owls lost to George Washington in the semifinals.
"We wanted to be in the (A-10) championship game and it's the same way in the NIT," Bradshaw said. "Saint Joe has been a longtime rival and we look forward to a long, enjoyable and successful relationship in the future."
Chaney has a 721-294 career record in 23 seasons at Temple and 33 overall. He led Cheyney State in suburban Philadelphia to the 1978 Division II national championship and has taken Temple to 17 NCAA tournaments, but none since 2001.
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