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What Roy Williams has to say about Jalek Felton’s suspension

Jalek Felton’s suspension was handled by the University of North Carolina and not Tar Heels basketball coach Roy Williams.

The UNC coach made that clear after Tuesday’s loss at Clemson.

“I had nothing to do with how it was handled,” Williams said. “That’s probably all I should say because I’ve been advised not to say anything and don’t know enough to say anything.

“That doesn’t stop me a lot of times from talking to you about why we win or lose when I don’t have any idea but I didn’t have anything to do with it and I don’t know enough about it.”

The school announced Felton’s suspension from all team-related and university activities on Tuesday morning. He did not travel with the team to Clemson and there is no timetable for his return.

Williams said the team discussed how it would play without Felton, a backup guard who averages 2.9 points per game, in practice on Monday.

“Really we talked about it at the end of practice (Monday) because we didn’t know everything until the end of practice (Monday),” Williams said.

Citing federal privacy laws, the university declined to provide details for the cause for Felton’s suspension. Kerry Sutton, a Durham-based attorney who is representing Felton, said that the university is in the process of gathering information related to a misconduct case involving Felton.

Sutton did not provide any additional detail about the allegations against Felton. Sutton’s firm specializes, in part, in representing college athletes and students facing Title IX or sexual misconduct allegations.

UNCCLEMSON-SP-013018-RTW16
North Carolina coach Roy Williams checks the scoreboard as North Carolina cuts into the Clemson lead in the second half on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at Littlejohn Coliseum inn Clemson, S.C. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Williams was asked if the problems at Michigan State and how that school has handled sexual assault allegations and cases has led to UNC’s seemingly swift action in Felton’s case.

Williams said he couldn’t answer the question because he wasn’t involved in the decision.

“I didn’t have any opinion,” Williams said. “I didn’t have any say.”

Tuesday’s game was the first Felton missed but the highly-touted recruit from West Columbia, S.C. has had a difficult freshman season. He has averaged only 6 minutes per ACC game and did not score in five of UNC’s first nine conference games.

Without Felton, starting point guard Joel Berry played 39 minutes in Tuesday’s loss, the most he has played in a regulation game this season.

“Even if Jalek hasn’t played as well as he wanted to play or as well as I wanted (him) to play, we’ve always been able to give Joel a couple breathers,” Williams said. “A couple of times (Felton) has really done some good things. We probably don’t beat Ohio State if we don’t have Jalek making 3s in that game.”

Felton had 12 points in UNC’s win over the Buckeyes on Dec. 23 but has a combined total of eight points in nine games since.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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