SAINT JOSEPH'S junior forward Halil Kanacevic has been suspended two games and a week of practice by the university, as the result of an obscene gesture he made midway through the second half of Tuesday's game at Villanova.
Kanacevic will miss games against Fairfield (Dec. 22) and Iona (Dec. 28). He can return to practice on Dec. 19. He will not participate in any team activities for a week except the team's annual Christmas charity event. He will next be eligible to play Dec. 31 at Drexel.
Kanacevic had just made a three-pointer against Villanova. As he headed down court, he put up three fingers. When two of the fingers disappeared, a celebration became an incident. SJU coach Phil Martelli, athletic director Don DiJulia and Kanacevic himself were all quoted in a statement released by the university.
"There is no place for obscene gestures or personal outbursts directed at anyone," Martelli said. "We have always sought to conduct ourselves in a respectful manner to our University and to our opponents, and this behavior was unacceptable and inexcusable, even in the heat of the moment."
Kanacevic is an excitable, passionate player. It is what makes him good. It is also what got him into trouble.
"The tradition of the Philadelphia Big 5 and the reputation of Saint Joseph's University are greater than any one game or any one player," DiJulia said. "In a meeting earlier [Wednesday] with myself and Coach Martelli, Halil was appropriately remorseful and accepting of this sanction. We have reinforced the expectations of our student-athletes, on and off the court.
"Further, integrity and respectful conduct have always been hallmarks of the Saint Joseph's athletics program and the University itself. We hope this incident serves as a 'teachable moment' for all of our coaches, student-athletes and supporters. We have also apologized to the appropriate parties at Villanova and extend that to all those who attended the game and watched on national television."
Kanacevic, a communications major, probably now understands the difference between exuberance and stupidity.
"My actions were wrong and embarrassing and I strongly regret them," Kanacevic said. "I made a mistake and I accept total responsibility for my behavior. I am sorry for the harm caused to my teammates and coaches and my actions were unbecoming of a member of our community. I sincerely apologize to both universities and to everyone who saw the game."