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Detroit Mercy interim head coach Jermaine Jackson talks to the media after the Titans’ home win over Siena Heights on Nov. 25, 2017. Jackson has assumed head coaching responsibilities while Bacari Alexander is suspended.
Chris Nelsen, Special to the Detroit Free Press

Bacari Alexander returned to the Detroit Mercy men’s basketball team for Wednesday night’s home game against Toledo, saying his unexplained absence the past seven games was for a “personal matter.”

After the Titans’ 89-86 loss to Toledo, which ended on Tre’Shaun Fletcher’s winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, Alexander said he was not suspended by the university but did not elaborate further.

Alexander last coached the Titans’ season-opening loss at Virginia Tech on Nov. 10. He was not on the sidelines for the home opener Nov. 13 vs. Michigan-Dearborn and hadn’t coached until Wednesday.

Detroit Mercy athletic director Robert Vowels told the Free Press during a home game Nov. 25 that Alexander’s absence was due to “personnel” matters, never calling it a suspension. Vowels declined that day to elaborate on the specifics of the situation.

More: Detroit Mercy coach Bacari Alexander set to return after 7-game absence

“The whole narrative of suspension, I would be the first to correct you,” Alexander said after Wednesday’s game. “I stepped away for a personal matter. The suspension narrative is something that was never generated from our university or department.”

Vowels previously said Alexander would return to coach this season, although he never gave a timetable. Alexander was told the same thing by the university.

“There was no doubt that I would continue to be the coach here at Detroit Mercy,” he said. “There’s not another place I’d rather be.”

Alexander’s personnel file is not subject to public inspection since Detroit Mercy is a private institution. Alexander said he returned to practice on Tuesday.

“We have a streamlined protocol on communication,” Alexander said. “The privacy of the matters and our inability to discuss personnel matters, I know is a nuisance. We apologize to our fan bases.”

With Alexander back at the helm at Calihan Hall, the Titans (4-5) suffered a tough loss to Toledo on the game’s final play.

“That was a heart-wrenching shot,” he said. “The old farmers used to say when I lived in Dexter, ‘Sometimes, the stuff you go through is fertilizer for the future.'”

During his absence, top assistant Jermaine Jackson assumed head coaching duties, leading the team to a 4-3 record. Jackson, Alexander’s former teammate at Detroit Mercy and longtime friend, returned to his assistant position.

“I had the ability to have contact in the early stages to issue directives, things of that nature,” Alexander said of staying in touch with Jackson. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with what they did.”