North Texas women’s basketball head coach Shanice Stephens has been suspended by the Sun Belt Conference for Thursday’s home game against Florida International for her conduct following a loss to Middle Tennessee last week.
Stephens ran up the tunnel at the Murphy Center that leads to the officials’ locker room as they were exiting the floor following the Blue Raiders’ 83-63 win. Stephens said that she was trying to talk with someone after the game, but declined at the time to identify the person.
Stephens said that there were factors in the game that contributed to UNT’s loss that were out of the Mean Green’s control.
She declined again Tuesday to comment on the reasons behind her actions.
“It was out of character for me and I regret it,” Stephens said. “I should not have let my anger show. It was a lesson learned, and I will grow from it.”
Larry McNeil, who is in his first season as an assistant coach at UNT, will fill in for Stephens. McNeil has more than 15 years of college coaching experience and was the head coach at Talladega (Ala.) from 1995-99.
“The conference office evaluated the situation and determined that coach Stephens’ actions violated conference conduct policies,” UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said. “We have very high expectations [for] our coaches and student-athletes at all times and unfortunately coach Stephens’ conduct was not what we, or she, feels is acceptable. After speaking with coach Stephens, I know she is very remorseful for her actions, and I am confident that she will approach circumstances differently in the future.”
A Sun Belt Conference official declined earlier this week to comment on what occurred after the game.
Stephens expressed confidence in her team to carry on without her.
“Most of the coaching is done in practice, although game-time decisions and adjustments have to be made,” Stephens said. “I am confident in coach McNeil and the whole staff. Everyone will give of themselves and will help lead this team to a victory.”
UNT (3-14) has lost five straight games, is 0-4 in Sun Belt Conference play and will look to turn its season around against FIU (6-11, 1-2). The Mean Green’s next three opponents are all at or under .500 on the season.
“A win here will help start a string of them,” Stephens said. “There is every reason to think we will win.”
The Mean Green led at halftime against MTSU and was competitive in a 69-64 loss at Western Kentucky, a traditional Sun Belt power.
“The kids are amped up and are backing me pretty well right now,” Stephens said. “We are going to see them play some good basketball on Thursday. We played well against Middle and Western. If we play like that against a team we have some advantages over, good things will happen.”