THE Griffith Demons have made the stunning decision to walk away from the rest of their State League basketball season, with the news placing the future of the program under severe jeopardy.
On the back of the 26-week suspension handed down to Demons coach Andrew Cullen for his part in a fight in a Griffith competition game, the state team immediately indicated they would appeal the punishment.
But speaking to The Area News yesterday, Cullen said because of a lack of communication from NSW Basketball ahead of their scheduled game against the Bathurst Goldminers, the team pulled the pin.
“At this stage I’d say that’s it ... I’m finished,” Cullen
“How can they (NSW Basketball) have a kangaroo court, give me 26 weeks in a two-hour hearing, and they have three full working days to answer a written, solicitor-guided appeal knowing what it meant to my team and my program.
“I have heard they can take up to three weeks to hear an appeal.
“But NSW Basketball can’t even notify me personally or properly to be at a hearing and they can’t answer my letter in three full working days.
“They did know the gravity of what they did, they did already admit that it (suspension) is ridiculously over the top and if they can’t get back to me in that time then it’s a lack of respect of everybody involved.
“I don’t care what their by-laws might say, it’s just unfair, and everybody (on the team) feels the same way about it and that’s why nobody went (to play Bathurst).”
Cullen said the stunning decision to pull out of the State League is not solely based on his suspension, but simply the latest in a long line of running battles with the state ruling body.
As recently as their proposed round four game against Bathurst this season, NSW Basketball changed the date of the game without telling Demons or West End Stadium officials, resulting in a missed clash and a “double game” against the Goldminers to compensate.
The shocking departure news comes just as Griffith prepared to enter the most important part of their season, but Cullen said in the short term the Demons will not exist.
“It has got the be clear, the (Demons) program is now in the hands of the (Griffith Basketball) Association and the president. Basically, a team will exist if they want it to, but none of the current squad are playing,” he said.
“Everybody is disappointed with this, all we do is play basketball. It costs money for people to play, nobody gets paid to play and everybody puts their own money in at some stage.
“We’re stuffed now because we’ve forfeited against the worst team in the competition (Bathurst) we may as well not even bother, but I’m over it. A person can only take so many kicks in the guts, and now they have broken me.”
The decision also ends American import Alex Chapman’s tenure with the Demons with Cullen simply saying “Chappy goes home” when The Area News asked of his future.
Cullen said the decision did not come lightly to withdraw the Demons from their remaining 10 games this season, but said the call was made by the entire squad to walk away.
“They are directly affected by all of this because a team like this is only successful because it’s a unit that gets a long so well,” Cullen said of the team.
“When you have to spend 12 hours on a bus on a road trip, you either become really close or basically you don’t.
“So they live and breath this as well, and all of the decisions that come through me, they all know about them and have an opinion on them.
“I made no indication as to what they should do, I put it on the table and said this is where it stands, you make your call and how we should address it.
“I can’t do more with it (the Demons program) and I can’t put more of my own time and money than I already have, so whether it was liked or disliked, I can’t have done any more and I can walk away from it knowing I did the best I could have done with it.”