UPDATED: Physical incident led to suspension of Georgia men’s basketball assistant

Georgia assistant coach Wade Mason and Georgia basketball player Kario Oquendo (3) during a game against Western Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

Credit: Photo courtesy of the University of Georgia

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Georgia assistant coach Wade Mason and Georgia basketball player Kario Oquendo (3) during a game against Western Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)

Credit: Photo courtesy of the University of Georgia

ATHENS — Georgia men’s basketball assistant coach Wade Mason has been indefinitely suspended by the program, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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The suspension follows a dispute, which became physical, between Mason and Bulldogs director of player personnel Brian Fish during halftime of Georgia’s 85-64 loss at LSU on Wednesday.

Mason’s suspension is with pay, and a decision on the status of Mason’s two-year contract has yet to be determined, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The AJC first reported the suspension and details of the incident.

UGA officials declined to comment. The school canceled a press conference with coach Tom Crean in advance of Saturday afternoon’s game with Ole Miss just minutes before its 3 p.m. Friday start. Mason declined to comment about the incident. Crean and Fish were not available for comment.

Update: At 9 a.m. Saturday, the UGA Athletics Association made the following statement: “There have been various media reports related to UGA Athletics personnel ranging from completely inaccurate to incomplete and premature. The incident in question was reported properly as required by university policies and is under review. We will comment if and when appropriate.”

According to people familiar with the situation, the incident began during the first half of the game when Mason overheard Fish make what he considered an inappropriate comment about a Georgia player. Mason, who sat next to Fish on the bench, brought up the remark to Fish immediately after and then again in the locker room at the intermission. It was then that the altercation turned physical with Mason pushing, and possibly punching, Fish.

Mason returned to the bench to continue his coaching duties. Georgia returned to Athens following the lopsided loss without further action despite three members of Georgia’s senior administration being on the trip, according to one person familiar with the situation. The following day, Mason began his scouting assignment for the game at Texas A&M on Feb. 22. Mason later was informed that a complaint had been filed with the athletic association’s human resource department. He later was suspended.

Mason came to Georgia in June after five seasons at Stephen F. Austin. He made the decision to come to Athens with the benefit of being in close proximity to his two children.

Fish was hired as a director of player personnel by Crean in 2019. He’s in his third season with the program after six seasons as head coach at Montana State. Georgia has three on-court assistants — Mason, Steve McClain and John Linehan — and Fish contributes to the program in the premier support staff role. Fish was caught on camera berating freshman Christian Wright during the second half of the team’s 74-72 loss to Auburn earlier this season.

Georgia (6-20), in its fourth season under Crean, has five regular-season games remaining. It hit the 20-loss mark after losing to LSU. Crean has amassed 15 league wins in his three-plus seasons at the program’s helm.

- Staff writer Chip Towers contributed to this article.