DALLAS -- Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson said he started wearing a tie last season so he could pull on it and remain calm when he got upset with officiating. This season, he knows he better hold on for dear life because of the stricter bench decorum rules in the Southwest Conference and tougher National Collegiate Athletic Association rules punishing unruly coaches.
"I am going to have to keep my mouth shut so I don't get thrown out of games," Richardson said.
"They are going to have to give coaches Valium before the games," Texas coach Tom Penders said with a chuckle.
Highlighting the crackdown on coaches' courtside escapades is a new NCAA rule requiring the coach's ejection after two technicals, instead of the previous three. Another rule will hold the coach responsible for actions of the players, assistant coaches and managers. Any combination of three technicals on the bench will earn the coach an ejection.
Players aren't immune, either. If a player is involved in a fight, he is out for a game. A second violation means a season-long suspension.
The crackdown comes after a season filled with arguments, fights and poor sportsmanship.
"I think all of last year was not a pleasant basketball season," said Paul Galvan, SWC supervisor of basketball officials. "The NCAA saw it. The national coordinator of officials [Hank Nichols] saw it in officiating, and he didn't think the officials were doing their part when that type of behavior [unruly coaches or players] happened."
"I feel the rules originated with Dick Schultz, the NCAA executive director," said Texas Tech coach Gerald Myers, a member of the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee. "He put an emphasis on sportsmanship and gamesmanship, and I think it is rightfully so. It's his direct influence on the rules committee."
Among last season's lowlights:
* A brawl occurred during a game between North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central. More than 300 fans spilled onto the court, seven people were injured and the game was suspended.
* LSU coach Dale Brown and Kentucky coach Rick Pitino had to be physically restrained from clashing during a game.
* Utah State coach Kohn Smith was punched by Nevada-Las Vegas player Moses Scurry in a melee during a game.
Several incidents involved SWC teams. Richardson staged a controversial walkout during an overtime victory at Texas. Penders served a one-game suspension for twice criticizing officials. There were complaints about former UT player Lance Blanks spitting at Texas Tech player Barron Brown. In a non-conference game, replays showed Texas' Joey Wright was sucker-punched by Oklahoma's Terry Evans.
Galvan said each conference must decide what steps are needed to correct such situations. The SWC has taken the NCAA's get-tough approach a step further.
With a supplemental six-point guideline on bench decorum for players and coaches, the SWC is more precise in what it considers unacceptable behavior. Among the major SWC features:
* A coach cannot talk to officials during the game unless his counterpart on the other bench is present.
* A head coach can get a technical if he charges an official in a disagreement with a call, even if he remains in the coaching box.
* An assistant coach who talks to an official gets one warning and then a technical.
* Players get automatic technicals for taunting.
It's obvious some of the rules are directed at certain coaches.
One rule, which calls for a technical after one team warning for "excessively demonstrative officiating signals," is directed at Penders, who is famous for mimicking the over-the-back call. Myers' favorite demonstration is of the traveling violation.
Richardson obviously was guilty of upstaging officials when he walked out in Austin. Besides Ciampaglio, Rice assistant Grey Giovanine and Texas Christian University assistants Gary Mendenhall and Ken Smith have displayed their tempers on the sidelines.
"We had a situation last year when Nolan walked out, and no one knew what the rule was," said TCU coach Moe Iba. "You had Penders a couple of times [criticizing the officials], and a couple of years ago I opened my big mouth. That is going to happen from time to time. We have all said we are not going to criticize the officials, and they are not going to criticize us. And we are going to be a happy, little family . . . as long as I don't get three officials I don't want."
The SWC's problems in 1989-90 focused more on bench decorum and taunting than actual fighting -- although several coaches were fighting mad by the end of the season.
Besides Penders' suspension Jan. 2 against Texas A&M, UT assistant coach Jamie Ciampaglio is serving a one-year probation for criticizing league schools and officials last season.
There were eight technical fouls called in the SWC Post-Season Classic semifinals at Reunion Arena when Baylor lost to Arkansas and Texas fell to Houston. Penders picked up three and was ejected. Baylor's Gene Iba was hit with two.