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Basketball coach who allegedly elbowed player won't face charges

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Player Matthew Kravchuk says in a police report that he suffered a bloody nose
  • His teammates say the incident "is not what it appears to be"
  • District attorney: the incident "does not constitute a prosecutable criminal offense"

Philadelphia (CNN) -- Philadelphia prosecutors said Thursday they will not file charges over allegations that a suspended college basketball coach elbowed a player and caused him to fall during a rigorous morning practice.

Matthew Kravchuk, 19, said in a police report that he suffered a bloody nose and scratches to his lip and forehead in the January 25 incident at Holy Family University. He complained in a separate doctor's visit of wrist pain and later filed a private criminal complaint.

The incident was reviewed by the city's Private Criminal Complaints Unit, which determined it "does not constitute a prosecutable criminal offense," according to a statement from the Philadelphia district attorney's office.

Teammates of Kravchuk said the incident involving Coach John O'Connor "is not what it appears to be."

And an attorney for O'Connor said his client has not been arrested, and the incident is not about a coach attacking a player.

Lawyer John J. Gallagher first saw the incident on a local Philadelphia TV station. He said the "doctored" video "makes O'Connor out to be a monster."

Video of the practice shows O'Connor and players conducting a drill on January 25.

The coach shoved the player, who wasn't looking and fell, said Kravchuk's attorney, Jack Cohen.

O'Connor yelled, "Good, you got some blood on you," and Kravchuk answered, "It's from you," Cohen said. The coach, he said, used a profanity and told Kravchuk to leave.

O'Connor later apologized to Kravchuk and the team.

Cohen claims the contact was intentional and told CNN affiliate KYW his client doesn't want to play any more for O'Connor.

Several other basketball players, in a statement issued Sunday, said O'Connor "realizes the mistake he made and accepts full responsibility for his actions."

"Due to the exchange of the accidental body contact, Matthew fell to the floor" and O'Connor brushed him with his foot, the team said.

"As a team we understood that coach's actions were strictly out of his love and persistence to make us a better basketball team. At the end of the meeting our team was all smiles and once again unified," the athletes said.

But Cohen said an apology was not sufficient.

"I understand where the players are coming from, but if you view the videotape, there is no place for physical violence from a coach in college sports," he said.

Gallagher said Kravchuk went to police more than two weeks after the incident, on the advice of an attorney. He contends Kravchuk did not mention the wrist injury on the police report.

"Now he's wearing a brace so big looks like it could injure his wrist just wearing the thing," Gallagher told CNN.

The athlete threw a temper tantrum and was thrown out of the gym because he was insulting the basketball staff, he added.

"You can't talk back to the coach," Gallagher said.

Holy Family University, in a statement last week about the suspension, said it could not comment because the incident is a personnel matter.

CNN's Sarah Hoye contributed to this report.