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Iona forward kicked off team claims self-defense for punching assistant coach

NCAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Iowa St. v Iona

DENVER, CO - MARCH 17: Tim Cluess, head coach of the Iona Gaels reacts during the game against the Iowa State Cyclones during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean Haffey/Getty Images)

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Iona senior forward Roland Griffin had a physical altercation in which he punched an assistant coach which led to him getting kicked off the team.

According to a report from Jeff Goodman of Stadium, Griffin claims he acted in self-defense when he punched assistant coach Ricky Johns on Monday morning when he said Johns tried to wrestle him down. The two had a face-to-face confrontation in which Griffin eventually punched Johns in the face several times.

“It was really heated,” Griffin told Stadium. “He eventually grabbed me by the jacket and tried to throw me down on the ground physically. We were against the locker, wrestling against the locker. He was grabbing me and holding me.

“He tried to wrestle me down, and I ended up on top. I’m not going to let another man physically do that to me. I punched him four or five times, then I stopped.”

Johns ended up in the hospital, as he didn’t return to work at all this week. Griffin met with Iona coach Tim Cluess on Monday, had a hearing on Tuesday, and given a school disciplinary suspension through May 31, 2020 on Wednesday -- which effectively bars Griffin from all campus activities, including classes. Griffin and his mother have countered by talking to Goodman, as well as filing a police report on Friday.

Griffin averaged 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season as he was expected to be a major presence for Iona this season. It’s hard to say where things will turn in this story from here. But it doesn’t look like Griffin will be returning to this program.