Holy Family coach depressed after TV appearance, lawyer says

John O'Connor received national coverage after a video showing him apparently shoving a player went viral.
John O'Connor received national coverage after a video showing him apparently shoving a player went viral.
Posted: February 26, 2011

As Holy Family University basketball coach John O'Connor left New York City on Thursday after his failed attempt at apologizing to player Matt Kravchuk on Good Morning America, he sank into a depression, his attorney said.

"Yesterday might have been the worst day for him," O'Connor's lawyer, John Gallagher, said Friday. "He realized he would have to resign from his job, for the good of the school and for himself."

O'Connor and Kravchuk became the subjects of national media coverage this week after a practice video showing O'Connor apparently shoving Kravchuk to the floor was leaked to Fox29 and went viral.

O'Connor appeared on the ABC morning show hoping to reconcile with Kravchuk. But Kravchuk did not accept the offer and said he could no longer play for him.

Jack Cohen, Kravchuk's lawyer, said Friday the situation had escalated because Holy Family did not adequately address the Jan. 25 incident.

He said Kravchuk wanted the situation "to be handled by the university, and they chose not to. This is, I suppose, the result."

Holy Family did not respond to requests for comment Friday. Instead, it issued this statement:

"After careful consideration, Coach John O'Connor believes that his continuing as the coach of the men's basketball team at Holy Family University is not in his or the university's best interests."

Kravchuk filed a criminal complaint against O'Connor, but the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said Thursday it would not prosecute. Kravchuk has no plans to file a civil suit, Cohen said.

The incident in question happened during a drill. O'Connor was encouraging players to be tougher rebounders when he bumped into Kravchuk, who fell to the floor. O'Connor then moved in on Kravchuk with his foot - a movement that O'Connor said was a "nudge" to encourage him to get up, though others have said it looked like a kick.

Kravchuk's nose was bloodied, and he said he injured his wrist when fell. He will need surgery on his wrist, Cohen said Friday.

O'Connor said he apologized to Kravchuk and the team afterward, and maintained that he never acted in anger or with the intention of injuring Kravchuk. He said he was called to the office of Holy Family's athletic director to review the incident and discuss how to better handle future coaching sessions.

Since news of O'Connor's resignation spread, the former coach has received phone calls and good wishes from coaches at other schools, Gallagher said. On Friday, Gallagher said, O'Connor accepted an invitation to watch a Temple University basketball practice session.

"He's gotten tremendous support from the basketball community," Gallagher said. "It could be six months, a year, but he'll be back in basketball."


Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.

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