By Christian Hince | January 23, 2023
Men’s Basketball Coach Dwayne Killings at a press conference in 2021
Photo Credit: Jay Bendlin / The ASP
The University at Albany’s Men’s basketball coach Dwayne Killings was arraigned in a Kentucky court Monday for a low-level assault charge on Monday, as first reported by Spectrum News 1 Albany.
The 9 a.m. hearing in Madison County, which was first reported by the Daily Gazette on Jan. 20, took place in response to a Nov. 24, 2021 pregame incident involving former player Luke Fizulich. Killings pleaded “not guilty” 4th degree assault with no visible injury, a class A misdemeanor which entails punishment as severe as a $500 fine and 12-month prison sentence. Killings will return to court on March 20.
This past November, Fizulich filed a civil suit towards Killings, as well as UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson and the university itself. The suit alleged the coach “violently and viciously grabbed him, threw him up against a locker and struck him in the face, drawing blood” before a game vs. Eastern Illinois at 2021’s Eastern Kentucky Invitational. Fizulich left the team after the 2021-22 season ended.
After Fizulich filed a formal complaint in February, UAlbany conducted an investigation of the incident the following month. The lawsuit alleged that the university initially intended to fire Killings, but claimed that pressure from regional Black leaders discouraged this decision. The coach was instead punished in April with a five-game suspension and $25,000 fine, which was donated to several non-profits of UAlbany’s choice.
A statement from a university spokesperson expressed that UAlbany “is aware of the complaint” filed in Kentucky against Killings. “The University’s understanding is that the underlying allegation is substantively the same information reported to the University in February 2022, which triggered UAlbany’s personnel investigation and resulted in Coach Killings serving a five-game suspension and paying a $25,000 fine last year,” it reads.
“At this time, the University is not aware of any additional information that would result in a change in Coach Killings’ status,” the statement reads. “ Should additional information become available, the University will respond appropriately.”
Fizulich’s attorney, Stuart Bernstein of Nessenoff & Miltenberg, spoke positively in a statement addressing the arraignment.
“We are pleased that the State of Kentucky is taking action to hold Coach Killings criminally accountable for viciously and publicly assaulting a student athlete in their state,” Bernstein said.
“The assault itself is not in question, as Coach Killings has admitted it. This is inexcusable conduct for a Division I college coach and SUNY Albany, to our knowledge, was correctly intending to terminate Coach Killings for the physical assault of a student athlete — until it appears community pressure made them reverse their initial decision,” Bernstein said. “All parties need to be held responsible for the harm they have inflicted on Mr. Fizulich.”
Killings’ arraignment comes just over two months into a difficult sophomore campaign for the UAlbany coach, whose team sits at 6-15 overall and 1-5 in conference, and is currently riding a three-game losing streak. He’s 19-33 dating back to his Great Danes debut last season.
The ASP will continue to share updates as they arise.