As expected, the third-year Arkansas head coach handed down major suspension penalties for players – five in all – involved in a series of off-season and off-court violations of team rules. Among those, sophomore guard Courtney Fortson and senior guard Stefan Welsh are out indefinitely for separate violations; junior guard Marcus Britt will sit six games for a pair of violations; and freshman forward Glenn Bryant will miss the first two games.
A release from the University of Arkansas said walk-on guard Nick Mason will not dress for any game in the fall semester.
"This collection of suspensions is not yesterday or the day before, it dates back. For a college basketball coach – or any coach – the biggest hammer we have is taking away playing time. We feel that some of these issues merits having those things taken away.
"I am not going to apologize for believing that we should do things a certain way," Pelphrey added. "For being disciplined. There are consequences for your actions. Know that. That is just the way I believe. As a player, as a coach, everything in me, every fiber within me - I believe that.
"I understand that is not always popular because I know how badly everybody wants something right now - today, don't want to wait for it - but by the same token, this is not something you put in a microwave and it pops out and it works. That is not what this is.
"I am committed to making all those decisions that are necessary to put ourselves in a situation…to have that success."
The release said Fortson and Welsh were suspended for "unrelated violations of team rules" and a timetable for their return would be "independent of each other and has not been determined".
Welsh's suspension began in the exhibition season. Fortson played in the preseason, and while his suspension is done so in part because of off-court incidents, it is also part personal, Pelphrey said.
"His is a little bit different," Pelphrey said. "He has a couple of personal issues that he wants to try to handle and we're going to try to do that with him. We're going to support him and try and get him better.
"It says indefinite suspension and it's not something we're going to resolve over a weekend, so it's going to be a little bit different."
In addition to the suspensions, the disciplined players have taken part in "supplemental mandatory educational programming, community service requirements and additional conditioning and training regimens", according to the release. Pelphrey said Tuesday all players suspended will continue to practice with the team, but will not sit on the bench during games.
"In the course of this process, we analyzed each student-athlete's situation independently and made determinations based on each set of circumstances," Pelphrey said. "We will continue to address disciplinary matters in a straight-forward manner and take action when players do not meet the expectations of conduct required of our student-athletes. Our program remains committed to representing the University of Arkansas, individually and collectively, in an appropriate manner."
To go along with the suspensions, Pelphrey said Tuesday redshirt sophomore forward Michael Sanchez will remain sidelined at least through the end of the month with plantar fasciitis. Sanchez, who started 28 games last season, missed Arkansas' Red-White game and both of the Razorbacks' exhibition contests with the injury.
"We'll start seeing some signs one way or the other in the next couple of weeks," said Pelphrey of Sanchez' treatments, noting the Springdale-native had surgery for the same injury over the summer. "Toward the end of November we're hoping to see some progress."
The suspensions and injuries leave the Razorbacks severely short-handed for at least their first two games of the season, and possibly longer. When Arkansas opens the season Friday night against Alcorn State in Bud Walton Arena, it will do so relying on minutes from six scholarship players and two walk-ons. It will be the same way when the Razorbacks take on Pelphrey's former coach Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals next Tuesday in St. Louis.
"It happens on occasion," Pelphrey said. "It's not ideal. But understanding where we are and what we're doing, we're excited about playing on Friday with what we've got."