Auburn player ejected: Why Chad Baker-Mazara was kicked out vs. Yale — and his status for rest of March Madness

Auburn boasts one of the best rosters in college basketball. But the Tigers were dealt a major blow early in their first-round clash against No. 13 Yale.

Junior guard Chad Baker-Mazara was ejected just three minutes into Friday’s first-round game against the Bulldogs. Officials determined he had committed a foul that rose to flagrant 2 level.

Baker-Mazara could be seen giving a heavy elbow and shoulder blow to Yale’s August Mahoney as the two players were running side-by-side down the court after an Auburn layup.

“We just saw the replay. What he did was wrong,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl told TNT during an in-game interview. “I thought it should’ve been a flagrant 1.

“To remove him from the game after an entire season of work is something that — obviously it’s going to disrupt us. He’s one of our very best players. And it was a retaliation. It was because he got hit in the throat the play before and he shouldn’t have retaliated.”

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Baker-Mazara was tweeting through it after his ejection, sharing a message of assurance for his team, reportedly calling out the call (before deleting the tweet) and then retweeting a post that appeared to show the retaliation to which Pearl referred — all while his team was still competing.

Why Chad Baker-Mazara was ejected vs. Yale

Plenty of onlookers beyond Pearl questioned whether Baker-Mazara should have been ejected from Friday’s game.

Charles Barkley, an Auburn alumnus and current basketball analyst, was among those saying Baker-Mazara should have been able to remain in the game.

Rules analyst Gene Steratore, though, agreed with the officials’ decision to send Baker-Mazara to the showers. He described the contact as “excessive in nature” and “completely unnecessary.”

“It’s not a basketball play,” Steratore said. “When you see him starting up the court, he lines up his opponent, he looks and then we see him deliver. … There is nothing basketball-related with that whatsoever.”

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What is a flagrant 2?

A flagrant 2 foul is a step above a flagrant 1. A flagrant 1 is determined to be a personal foul considered excessive in nature, but not based entirely on the severity of the act, according to the NCAA rules. Above that, a flagrant 2 is described as contact not just excessive but severe or extreme while the ball is live. The rule book describes severe as brutal, harsh or cruel, and it describes extreme as dangerous or punishing.

The rule book notes that officials should consider the following when determining whether a foul should be a flagrant 2:

  • Severity of the contact
  • Whether a player made a legitimate effort to block a shot
  • Potential for injury stemming from the contact made
  • Any contact to the groin area that is clearly not accidental
  • Any foul similar to a flagrant 1 but is severe or extreme beyond just being excessive

As a result of a flagrant 2, the offending player is automatically ejected and the other team gets two free throws and possession. 

Under rule 10, act 15, the “illegal contact caused by the swinging of the elbow” can reach flagrant 2 levels if it is determined to be “excessive.”

Will Chad Baker-Mazara be eligible to play second round?

Though Baker-Mazara cannot return against Yale, he will be able to return should Auburn the Bulldogs and advance to the second round. Only when a flagrant 2 penalty is assessed for fighting does it mean a player will be suspended.

Chad Baker-Mazara stats

Baker-Mazara is in his first season with the Tigers. He previously played at Duquesne (2020-21), San Diego State (2021-22) and Northwest Florida State College (2022-23).

Here’s a look at his numbers from his 2023-24 season with Auburn.

  • 10.3 points per game
  • 3.7 rebounds per game
  • 2.2 assists per game
  • 1.1 steals per game
  • 0.5 blocks per game
  • 45.2 percent field-goal shooting
  • 41.8 percent 3-point shooting
  • 87.6 percent free-throw shooting

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