McDonald: Akol suspension announcement came late to avoid ‘distraction’

Cole Claybourn

Head Coach Ken McDonald has known since the spring that junior center Teeng Akol would be suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of team rules.

But McDonald chose to wait until hours before tip off of WKU’s season-opener vs. St. Joseph’s on Friday to announce the news.

“I don’t know if there was much of a reason other than I didn’t want it to be a distraction to be talked about for, say, a week or two weeks or a month,” McDonald said after Friday’s 72-61 loss to St. Joseph’s. “If (St. Joseph’s) Coach Martelli is working on guarding a 6-foot-11 center until game time, it’s not going to break my heart. 

“That’s not really the reason. We just want to make sure that we didn’t have a distraction and that Teeng is working on what he needs to work on to get himself back on track with our program.”

McDonald chose not to go into further detail about why Akol’s suspension came about.

He said in a statement that the incident that brought on the suspension happened “right after the 2010-2011 season ended.”

The former Oklahoma State transfer will miss Monday night’s game against Tennessee State and the Toppers’ first round game in the Charleston Classic against Tulsa.

“Teeng has shown a renewed focus since this past spring, and we look forward to having him back in the lineup next week,” McDonald said in the statement.

Freshman forward George Fant and freshman guard T.J. Price also sat out Monday’s game, but their situations were much different than Akol’s.

WKU athletics announced just prior to tip-off that “because of an issue regarding the paperwork filing of their approved summer employment,” the two would be sitting out Friday.

The statement said Fant and Price were not at fault, nor were any members of WKU’s staff.

McDonald said he couldn’t go into much detail about the situation because it’s still an ongoing process.

“We were blindsided a little bit yesterday with the whole situation and we’re hoping it’s worked out soon,” McDonald said. “We’re having to make sure we go through the right channels to make sure we get everything straight.”

McDonald said he and Athletic Compliance tried to get the issue resolved Friday before game time but that was unsuccessful.

“There was a little bit of hope that it would happen today now obviously Monday is the big day,” he said.

Fant and Price started in WKU’s exhibition win over Xavier last Saturday. Akol played 10 minutes in the game.