Ime Udoka, head coach of the Boston Celtics, has been suspended for the entire NBA season for violations of team policies, the organization announced Thursday night.
The team added that a decision on Udoka’s future with the Celtics will be made at a later date. His suspension was effective immediately.
According to ESPN, The Athletic and the Boston Globe, Udoka had a consensual relationship with a female member of the team’s staff.
“I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision,” Udoka said to ESPN in a statement in which he apologized to the players, fans, organization and his family.
CNN has reached out to the Celtics for further comment.
Udoka took over as the team’s head coach from Brad Stevens ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season and coached the Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010, where they lost 4-2 to the Golden State Warriors.
On Friday, Celtics owner Wycliffe “Wyc” Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens spoke with the media to discuss Udoka’s suspension.
Grousbeck explained that the decision to suspended Udoka was taken after the organization brought in a “respected law firm to conduct an impartial investigation” having learned about the allegations over the summer.
Grousbeck said he felt the season-long suspension – which will come with a “significant financial penalty,” according to the owner – is “well-warranted and appropriate and backed by substantial research and facts.”
He added: “Ime has personally told me in a private conversation, just the general theme was – I’d say – acceptance and appreciation for how this has been handled.”
Grousbeck also explained that the players are “very concerned” after discussions with them. “It is not a welcome development, but they also have, I felt, energy, focus, commitment and drive to really accomplish great things this season.”
Stevens choked up when talking about the impact the news has had on women in the organization, saying: “We have a lot of talented women in our organization.
“I thought yesterday was really hard on them. Nobody can control Twitter speculation – rampant bulls**t. We as an organization have a responsibility to make sure we support them now because a lot of people were dragged unfairly.”
Gary Washburn, national basketball writer for the Boston Globe, told John Berman and Brianna Keilar on CNN’s New Day that Udoka may never coach the Celtics again.
“This could have been something that was in his contract,” Washburn said. “You know, ‘You’re not able to have relationships with members of the organizations, especially those who are under you.’ So, unfortunately, for coach Udoka, he broke those laws, broke those rules and now he’s not out of a job, but he’s as close to out of a job as he can get.
“He’ll be suspended for a year and the organization did not promise he’ll be back in 2023-24. They said they’ll review it then, so he may never coach the Boston Celtics again.”
The Celtics start their season on October 18 against the Philadelphia 76ers at the TD Garden in Boston. NBA training camps open next week with the first preseason games scheduled for a week from Friday.
CNN’s Jacob Lev and Homero De la Fuente contributed to this report.