Claim, not coach, irks evicted fan

UNC security said King was intoxicated; he rebuts allegation

Staff WritersDecember 15, 2009 

Presbyterian College fan and alumnus Brian King said North Carolina coach Roy Williams over-reacted by pointing out King to security officials who ejected him from Saturday night's game at the Smith Center.

Nonetheless, King, who says he was the man who was thrown out, isn't angry with Williams. Instead, he's upset that he was portrayed as drunk and sitting in the wrong seat for Presbyterian's game against the Tar Heels.

"I was not intoxicated," said King, a 1996 Presbyterian graduate who lives in Concord. "I was not asked to produce a ticket. ... That was fabricated, and that's what I'm upset about."

King, who was seated about 20 rows behind the North Carolina bench, was ejected late in the second half after shouting for Tar Heel forward Deon Thompson to miss a free throw. Williams turned around, shouted in King's direction, and directed officers toward King.

Immediately after the game, Sports Information Director Steve Kirschner said security officers told him that the fan appeared intoxicated, wasn't in his ticketed seat and had been asked to move earlier.

UNC department of public safety spokesman Randy Young said Monday that King initially ignored officers and was uncooperative.

"It was in the officers' opinion that he had been drinking," Young said. "At which point they made the decision that it would be better for himself and others that he was escorted from the building."

Young said King was not arrested, nor were charges pressed or trespass orders issued. King said he was given a different reason for his ejection.

"I was told, 'Because this is Roy's house, and when Roy says you need to go, you go' " King said. "I thought it was sort of amusing."

Kirschner said Williams did not order officers to eject King. Kirschner said the spot where King was sitting was very close to seats that are held by Williams and members of the basketball staff.

Williams made it clear that he wants people in those seats cheering for North Carolina. King was wearing a shirt with a "PC" logo for Presbyterian and cheering against the Tar Heels.

"Let's don't make it a bigger thing than it is," Williams said after the game. "I just don't think anybody should yell negative things toward our players that come in on our tickets to watch our game."

During his weekly radio show Monday night, according to the Fayetteville Observer, Williams said he has been sensitive to fan taunts since the Tar Heels played Ohio State at Madison Square Garden last month, when a couple of fans spent most of the game heckling the Tar Heels. He said he was just trying to look out for his players and their parents by yelling back at King.

"I hate that it happened," Williams said, according to the newspaper's Web site. "I wish I hadn't gotten involved with it. But don't be sitting behind our bench yelling at our players in my building. That's the way I feel about. And if I'm wrong, then that's good. But I ain't apologizing."

North Carolina's athletic director, Dick Baddour, said he isn't concerned about the incident or the way Williams handled it.

"It's been blown way out of proportion," Baddour said, "and I think we need to move on, and that's what we need to do."

King sounded willing to do that and said he doesn't plan to get any lawyers involved. He said he would have preferred for his 15 minutes of fame over this incident to have been finished in about five seconds.

He said he was sitting with six of his friends from grade school who are North Carolina graduates when he attracted Williams' attention. Asked if he had anything to drink that day, King said only that he was not intoxicated.

King said he was never asked for his ticket and had at least two tickets in his pocket from friends who didn't show up for the game.

"I just want to make sure I'm not painted as a ding dong, because I'm not," King said. "I didn't say anything vulgar, I was not intoxicated ... I was cheering for Presbyterian, I was excited to see my little team play a big team."

The big team, the Tar Heels, won 103-64. But UNC officials sounded just as eager as King for the aftermath to be over after two days of fan chatter and national attention.

"I'm sure we all wish that none of that happened, period," Kirschner said.

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com

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