FULL STATEMENT FROM THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL LEAGUE:
On 20th February, Tony Mitchell of the Cairns Taipans was involved in an incident that lead to a charge of Striking or Attacking a Game Official with a basketball. A subsequent Single Member Tribunal was held on 24th February at which Tony Mitchell was not represented and provided no defence for his actions.
Tony Nolan QC, the Single Member Tribunal chairperson found that the actions of Mitchell were deliberate and ruled that the submission of a 10-14 game suspension by the NBL was inadequate. Mr Nolan issued a penalty of a full NBL Season suspension (28 Games). As Mitchell had returned home to the USA, Nolan ruled that the penalty would remain in place until the 23rd February 2018 effectively banning him for 12 months.
On 25th February, an extension of 24 hours was granted to Mr Todd Ramasar (player agent for Tony Mitchell) for the lodgement of appeal. This appeal was not received within the extended timeframe however Ms Alanna Duffy, the full Tribunal Chairperson, granted the appeal based on submissions relating to the length of the penalty.
On March 1st, a full tribunal was chaired by Ms Duffy and supported by Michael Klooster and Jenni Screen. Mr Mitchell did not attend this tribunal however was represented by his agent Mr Ramasar and the Australian Basketballers’ Association CEO Jacob Holmes.
The Tribunal heard submissions from the ABA and Mr Ramasar which had not been provided to the Single Member Tribunal due to the non-attendance of Mr Mitchell or a representative to speak on his behalf.
The full tribunal retired to consider a finding which was delivered to all parties on Sunday 5th March, the penalty has been amended to a 10 Game Suspension.
In making this finding, the tribunal have stated that “The Tribunal considers that the original suspension is excessive in light of the gravity of the conduct outlined above. Further, we note that the Single Member Tribunal was not assisted, as we were, by any submissions made on behalf of Mr Mitchell and could not take into account his written apology, as it had not been provided at that stage.”
The written apology from Tony Mitchell can be found below:
“Dear NBL, Taipans, & Fans,
Please accept this letter as a formal apology for the incident that transpired on Monday following our team’s semi-final loss to Perth.
I am embarrassed by my actions and understand that my conduct towards the official, Mr. Vaughan Mayberry, was unacceptable. I know as a player of the Taipans and NBL, my actions both on and off the court are reflective of my team and the league. I regret my decision to toss a ball at Mr. Mayberry and I don’t want my careless act to reflect on my teammates, other NBL players or the league in general. I let my emotions get the best of me following my team’s loss. There is no excuse for my behavior. Please accept my apology and know that it will never happen again in the future.
Lastly, I want to apologize to the families and fans that attended the game. I do not want children and other spectators of the game to view my action as acceptable conduct. I should have exemplified better judgement. I am truly sorry for this incident and I hope to make it up to you in future NBL seasons.
In determining whether Mr Mitchell would be refunded any of the $2,000 that was required for the appeal to be heard, the tribunal stated that “The Full Tribunal has decided not to refund the balance. Although we are not required to give a reason for this part of our decision we note that an appeal may not have been necessary had Mr Mitchell and/or his representatives attended the Single Member Tribunal hearing and made the submissions and provided the material that was presented to us.”
The NBL is disappointed that the Single Member Tribunal was not afforded the same opportunity to consider any submissions by Mr Mitchell or his representatives as this may have avoided the need for a Full Tribunal.
The NBL supports that the appropriate process has been followed in coming to the conclusion and respect the decision of the Full Tribunal. As required under Regulation 44 in the FIBA Regulation Book 3AG, the details of this sanction will be supplied along with any request for a Letter of Clearance.