Gators softball coach apologizes for postgame argument with opposing player

With an errant high-five attempt, a shoulder tap and a push in the back, University of Florida head coach Tim Walton and Auburn shortstop Haley Fagan ignited what amounted to a serious softball beef.

The drama unfolded after the Tigers’ 1-0 win over the Gators on Monday. As the two teams were walking through the postgame handshake line, Walton and Fagan pushed each other before engaging in a heated exchange.

Fagan approached the skipper with her arms at her side. Walton proceeded to make contact with her right shoulder in what appeared to be a light shove with his forearm. Fagan responded by shoving Walton in the back, sparking a brief but spirited war of words.

Fagan then appears to yell at someone off camera before a teammate pulls her back to keep things from going further.

Why on Earth did this happen to begin with? It turns out there’s some history between the two.

Fagan’s sisters, Sami and Kasey, played for Walton at Florida. But the two were dismissed in 2012 following “an altercation on the team,” according to their father, Kevin, a former defensive lineman with the University of Miami and San Francisco 49ers.

Walton apologized through a statement released by the school Tuesday morning.

“I just wanted to congratulate Auburn on the win — it was a good series.

“My intent was to give a high-five to each opposing player as we do after every game. Apparently, her hand wasn’t up as I said ‘good game’ and I touched her shoulder. I should have paid closer attention and did not intend to upset her. I regret that this has taken attention away from the effort and sportsmanship both teams displayed all weekend.”

Florida and Auburn won’t play again during the 2017 regular season, but keep some popcorn on hand in case the two top-five schools cross paths in the postseason.

Are the Gators about to hire Spurs coach Becky Hammon?

Assistant coach Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 21, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Spurs defeated the Suns 118-111. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

One of the most prominent women in basketball could be going to Gainesville.

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon is reportedly one of three finalists for Florida’s women’s basketball head coaching position, according to Swish Appeal and RealGM.com.

Hammon, who the Spurs hired in 2014, is the first full-time female assistant coach in any of the four major male sports leagues.

The Gators fired Amanda Butler on March 6 after 10 years at the helm. She finished her Florida career with a 190-137 record.

Ex-Florida Gators Chandler Parsons out indefinitely with tear in knee

Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets Monday, March 6, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Chandler Parsons’ quest to validate his four-year, $94 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies is on an indefinite hold.

Memphis announced Monday that Parsons is out indefinitely with a partial meniscus tear in his left knee. The former Florida Gators star saw his last two seasons cut short by surgeries on his right knee.

The Grizzlies are still evaluating to determine “the appropriate course of action,” but sources told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that Parsons “will likely undergo season-ending surgery.”

“To suffer a setback like this after working so diligently to rebound from the injury to his right knee is obviously tough,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement. “That said, we know he will continue to work tirelessly to return to the court with his teammates and contribute.”

Parsons hasn’t performed anywhere near his normal level. He’s admitted as much himself.

He was shooting career-worst rates from the field (33.8 percent) and from three (26.9). His vast list of personal lows included 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 19.9 minutes.

He had hybrid micro-fracture surgery on his right knee in May 2014, then a meniscus repair less than 12 months later. The Dallas Mavericks opted not to re-sign him last summer, instead giving the same max deal to Harrison Barnes.

Parsons missed the first six games of this season and had his minutes managed throughout.

His left knee began bothering him after his debut, and he missed a month with a bone bruise after only six appearances.

His four-year run with the Gators culminated with the 2010-11 SEC Player of the Year award. The Houston Rockets drafted him 38th overall in 2011, and he spent his first three NBA seasons there before signing in Dallas.

Entering this season, he owned career averages of 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Ex-Gator Chandler Parsons struggling in first year of $94M contract

Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons (25) and guard Mike Conley (11) stand on the court between plays in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

On a scale of one to 10, Chandler Parsons’ 2016-17 season has been horrendous.

That’s a self-assessment, by the way.

“I suck right now,” the former Florida Gator told ESPN. “There’s no sugarcoating it. It is what it is. I’m just going to continue to work, continue to grind.”

There’s no better place to do that than on the grit-and-grind Memphis Grizzlies, but the amount of work needed is staggering.

Parsons is in the first season of a four-year, $94 million contract, and he’s never played worse.

Every relevant statistical category has plummeted to a personal worst, including 6.2 points and 1.6 assists in only 19.8 minutes a night. His 34.0 field-goal percentage — more than 11 points below his previous low — ranks 320th among the 323 players who have logged at least 500 minutes. His 7.6 player efficiency rating ranks ahead of only seven players averaging at least 15 minutes, none of whom will earn one-third of his $22.1 million salary.

“I understand as a sports fan you want production,” Parsons said of being booed on his home floor. “You see the contract I signed with the salary I make. People expect a lot better than I’m performing right now. That’s natural, and that’s how it goes.”

The lavish lifestyle he leads on social media probably hasn’t done him any favors in his new blue-collar market. To that end, he has vowed to silence his activity there for the rest of the season.

But his on-court performance is the much greater concern. There’s a possibility this isn’t simply a slump, but rather his new norm.

Since 2015, he has had two knee surgeries and missed a month this season with a bone bruise in his other knee. The 28-year-old’s athleticism has taken a noticeable hit, and there’s no telling whether the damage might be permanent.

Parsons played for the Gators from 2007 to 2011, earning SEC Player of the Year honors as a senior. He was drafted 38th overall in 2011 and owns career averages of 13.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists over five-plus seasons with the Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.