Dunbar High basketball coach Pete Pompey yesterday termed "ridiculous" broadcast reports criticizing his team's behavior at two sporting goods stores during last weekend's McDonald's Classic in Erie, Pa.
WSEE-TV in Erie aired interviews Tuesday with two salesmen from the Nike Outlet who complained about the conduct of the nationally top-ranked Poets when they visited the store Friday. Yesterday, WBAL Radio in Baltimore aired part of the tape and also interviewed a salesperson from the Erie Sports Store who complained about the players' conduct.
"That's ridiculous," Pompey told The Sun yesterday. "If there was a problem, it was handled by the coaches. We've been all over America and have been complimented for being well-behaved. I won't even entertain any more comments about this."
Stephanie Bennett, manager at the Nike Outlet, said yesterday that a 12-year-old traveling with the Dunbar team concealed a pair of shoes in his jacket but removed them after being spotted by a store salesman.
"I did approach the coach and he was nice about it," said Bennett. "We didn't attempt to press charges or anything. There wasn't a problem with the players."
Brian Dunkle, a salesman at the Erie Sports Store, downplayed the incident in an interview with The Sun yesterday.
"We didn't have any problems as far as needing the authorities or anything. I guess what we had was a lot of unnecessary roughness," he said. "They were roughhousing. They were throwing the balls and slamming the hoops. I guess if we had asserted ourselves they would have stopped, but we were trying to be hospitable because of who they were. If it were a couple guys off the street, we wouldn't have let it happen."
Ron Sertz, the director of the McDonald's Classic, said he was not aware of any complaints until Tuesday when the TV station called.
"Other than the normal things you might expect, there was nothing," he said. "It was no problem that you couldn't find on a lot of teams. I talked with the people at the store, and they said they weren't happy with [Dunbar's] behavior, but it was nothing newsworthy. The two other TV stations here called me and TC talked to the newspapers, but none of them did anything with it."