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Florida extends apology to Vols following injury to John Fulkerson

Vols head basketball coach Rick Barnes stated following Tennessee’s loss to Alabama that Florida head coach Mike White reached out after Friday’s game between the Vols and Gators to apologize for the incident that took place between John Fulkerson and Omar Payne.

Fulkerson had to leave the game against the Gators with 17:10 remaining in the second half after Florida forward Omar Payne delivered two unnecessary elbows. The first one connected with Fulkerson’s throat, while the second one connected with Fulkerson’s head. He would not return to the game.

“Mike White texted me right after the game,” Barnes said following the loss to the Crimson Tide. “He was upset, as any coach would be. I’ve told people, I’ve been in situations like that over the many years I’ve been in it either as a head coach, assistant coach when something like that happens. It’s happened a couple times with me where the person who did it you would least expect them to do it. Sometimes in the heat of battle, things happen. You don’t want to see it happen. There’s tremendous regret when it does afterwards.

“Mike, everyone, reached out to us after the game. Omar I think did last night or this morning with John. I know Mike reached out to John. What Fulky said I think is John Fulkerson, he accepted it. You hate to see it, but in the heat of battle, again, sometimes emotions can bring the worst out of you sometimes. But, yeah, it’s over with. It’s done with. We’ll get on down the road.”

Fulkerson was playing well prior to the elbow. He had eight points on 3-for-4 shooting in 19 minutes when Payne took it upon himself to end Fulkerson’s afternoon. Fulkerson also had a rebound and a block. Barnes stated that he doesn’t know whether Fulkerson will be available for the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament next weekend.

“I know a lot of people are upset with what happened during yesterday’s game,” Fulkerson tweeted out Saturday morning. “Omar reached out to me this morning and was very remorseful. Everyone makes mistakes. Let’s all show grace and focus on today’s game. Go Vols!”

Payne also issued a statement on Twitter Saturday morning, apologizing for his actions. He was ejected at the time of Fulkerson’s injury and whether or not he’ll receive further discipline has not yet been decided.

“I’m sorry for what transpired yesterday and deeply regret the incident,” Payne wrote in a tweeted statement. “I have nothing but respect for John and Tennessee program. Especially, their support for my brother Keyontae this season. I’ve apologized to John and wanted to also say I’m sorry publicly to him, the Tennessee team and Coach Barnes. I wish them the best on their NCAA tournament run.”


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10 Responses

  1. The bastard had the nerve to watch the game behind the baseline after he shed his uniform.

  2. Well, Fulkerson does play chippy and it does not surprise that someone had enough. The elbows weren’t even that vicious, but they did catch him just right. Classy of Rick Barnes as usual and I’ll even give Payne a little credit for apologizing.

  3. I don’t believe he’s remorseful except for being caught, Florida players always play dirty basketball or football.

  4. When are White and SEC Comish Sanka Coffee going to discipline punk Payne? Or will he get away with his actions because of his color?

  5. No need to carry a grudge. Omar stepped up and presented his apology which is more than most people would do. I bleed orange and we need to understand all things happen for a reason. Might be a huge learning experience for Omar. Go Vols!!!! GBO!!!

  6. Over? It isn’t over!!! The classless gator fans won’t forget, they will use it to poke fun at UT just like the classless Georgia fans did about Pat a couple years ago.

  7. Unfortunately this kind of behavior typifies the gator player when they are faced with being beaten.
    Under no circumstances should this be accepted

  8. So, does Payne get to play in the NCAA tournament on Friday… and Fulkerson may not? How can this be? These players need to understand that there are repercussions from their behavior.

  9. I think he should be put out of all sports. This is not the first time, he had 2 incidents last year and 2 are 3 this year per his coach. He should be ejected from all sports. He has a big issue with his temper. Also he should not play in the tournament coming up but I’m sure his coach is so up on winning he will let him play. He should pay for all of Fulkerson medical bills maybe that will be a learning tool for him. Fulkerson has facial fractures. not only his senior year and he can’t even finish out season due to his injuries.

  10. Even Tim Tebow can’t make up for the classless gators. I wish this wasn’t typical of the representatives from uf but too much history there. Fulkey is the epitome of the kind of gentleman you want in your program …….. the exact opposite of the pinkish display seen exhibited by Omar Payne. This has nothing to do with race…. remember Grayson Allen at Duke??? This has everything to do with character

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