Big Ten suspends Illinois guard Alan Griffin for 2 games for stepping on Purdue's Sasha Stefanovic; Brad Underwood calls the penalty 'excessive'

Big Ten suspends Illinois guard Alan Griffin for 2 games for stepping on Purdue's Sasha Stefanovic; Brad Underwood calls the penalty 'excessive'

On January 2, 2020, Illinois' Alan Griffin is pursued down court by Michigan State's Gabe Brown (44) and Aaron Henry (11) during the second half at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images/TNS)

The Big Ten has suspended Illinois guard Alan Griffin for two games, the conference announced Thursday.

Griffin, a sophomore, was ejected from Tuesday's 79-62 victory at Purdue for stepping on Sasha Stefanovic after the Boilermakers guard made a layup in the first half.

Griffin has been a spark off the bench for the Illini, averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds. Illinois plays at Michigan at 11 a.m. Saturday and hosts Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30. Griffin is eligible to return Feb. 2 at No. 19 Iowa.

"After a thoughtful and thorough review of this incident, we are all extremely fortunate this did not create a hostile and unsafe environment for the players, coaches, game officials and fans," Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. "It is important for me to emphasize and make it crystal clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, period.

"We place the utmost importance on the safety and well-being of our players, coaches, game officials and fans. The situation provides a teachable moment for all parties involved, especially our student athletes as they use their time in the Big Ten to grow as individuals both on and off the field of competition."

"Alan Griffin is a great young man, and I remain proud of him as a person and as a member of our team. He is a 19-year-old student-athlete who made a mistake - a mistake we don't condone and that reflects negatively on our program," Underwood said in the statement. "He showed poor judgment in a moment of emotion and has been remorseful from the outset, meeting with Sasha Stefanovic after the game to apologize and following with a public apology to Sasha, Coach (Matt) Painter and the Purdue team. He was ejected from the contest and essentially missed the entire game as a consequence of his actions.

"I am proud of Alan's accountability, response and growth from this experience. I feel the further penalty of a two-game suspension is excessive and am disappointed in the timing. But I respect the Big Ten's decision and am moving on. We will continue to support Alan and help him learn from this situation."

Griffin issued an apology Wednesday. He posted on Twitter that the incident was "out of character" and "does not reflect who I am as a person."

"To Sasha, Coach Painter, the rest of the Purdue team, my coaches, teammates and Illini Nation, I am deeply sorry that this incident caused a distraction in what was otherwise a great nigh for our team," the tweet read. "I promise to Coach Underwood and my teammates that I will be more mindful in the future."

The Big Ten's announcement follows the news of suspensions by the Big 12 totaling 25 games for four players involved in a bench-clearing fight during Tuesday's game between Kansas and Kansas State.

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