WSSU asks for sanctions against Virginia State

Winston-Salem State University (WGHP file photo)

Winston-Salem State University (WGHP file photo)

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem State University wants the NCAA and CIAA to impose sanctions against Virginia State University, including ordering VSU to pay WSSU for the money it lost when the CIAA football championship game was cancelled and place VSU on probation and strip scholarships from the its football team.

WSSU Chancellor Donald Reaves outlined his school’s position in a complaint filed with the NCAA and CIAA. WSSU asked the NCAA to investigate the incident. Depending on NCAA investigation’s findings, the NCAA could impose penalties on VSU for violating NCAA rules, according to the complaint.

The CIAA also is investigating the incident.

WSSU wants the CIAA to declare that VSU forfeited the CIAA championship football game, and declare WSSU as the 2013 CIAA champions.

The NCAA and the CIAA also should impose financial penalties against VSU for the loss of income, revenue and preparation costs incurred by WSSU to stage the CIAA championship game.

Aaron Singleton, a WSSU spokesman, said that WSSU lost about $35,000 when the CIAA canceled its championship game.

Sharon Goldmacher, a CIAA spokeswoman, said that both schools have submitted their statements to the CIAA about the incident. Goldmacher declined to comment specifically on WSSU’s complaint or give a timeline on when the CIAA may issue a ruling.

“We will continue to go through our process,” Goldmacher said.

Major violations

WSSU’s complaint says Rams quarterback Rudy Johnson was beaten by five Virginia State University football players during the CIAA awards luncheon on the WSSU campus on Nov. 15.

In the complaint, Reaves said that the actions of the VSU, its football players and the failure of VSU staff members and coaches to supervise their players “likely constitute major violations of the NCAA and CIAA.”

Johnson suffered a black eye and cuts to his face. Johnson said his back and ribs also were sore after the incident.

Singleton said that Reaves wouldn’t have additional comments about the complaint.

Reserve running back, Lamont Darnell Britt, 22, of Portsmouth, Va., was charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury in connection with the attack on Johnson, an arrest warrant says. Britt has been suspended from the VSU team pending its investigation of the incident.

Johnson indicated that up to six VSU players attacked him, but he identified only Britt to WSSU campus police.

Britt is scheduled to appear Monday in Forsyth District Court.

The attack on Johnson caused CIAA officials to cancel the championship game between Virginia State and WSSU on Nov. 16 at Bowman Gray Stadium. The CIAA also ruled that VSU was ineligible to play in the Division II playoffs.

The melee at Anderson center received national news coverage.

Johnson recovered and played in WSSU’s victory Nov. 23 against Slippery Rock in the first round of the Division II playoffs at Bowman Gray Stadium. The Rams lost Saturday to Shepherd University in the second round of the playoffs.

Kevin Manns, WSSU’s assistant athletics’ director in charge of sports information, said Thursday that the university’s athletics department, including its football office, had no comment on the complaint.

Cassandra Artis-Williams, an assistant sports information director at VSU, also declined to comment on the complaint. Thomas Reed, a VSU spokesman, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Terri Steeb-Gronau, the NCAA vice president of Division II governance, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

Additional allegations

WSSU’s preliminary investigation suggests that one or more Trojan football players “attempted to create an extensive competitive advantage by eliminating the starting quarterback from championship competition play, thereby increasing Virginia State University’s chances for a victory and a guaranteed berth to the Division II postseason championship playoffs,” the complaint says.

The WSSU investigation also found that the VSU football team of 55 players traveled to Winston-Salem unaccompanied by VSU’s President Keith Miller, Athletics Director Peggy Davis or any senior administrator, and that the players were being supervised by Head Coach Latrell Scott, who has a criminal record, the complaint said.

Attached to the complaint are four pages of Scott’s criminal background, which includes a pair of convictions for driving while impaired, a misdemeanor assault conviction and an arrest for felony obstruction of Atlanta police officers by use of threats or violence.

“Based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the violent attack on WSSU’s quarterback, it is apparent that the assault may have not have occurred if VSU has taken reasonable, necessary and prudent steps to appropriately supervise its student athletes,” according to the complaint.

The NCAA and CIAA should censure Scott “for irresponsible comments related to the assault, and for his lack of professional decorum during the height of the melee, and his refusal to obey the order of a police official,” the complaint states.

At Nov. 18 news conference at VSU, Scott downplayed the possibility that additional players could be charged in the melee, saying “there was a rush to judgment.”

“I acknowledge that we had one young man who made a bad decision,” Scott said, “as young men sometimes do.”

Reaves told reporter the same day that Scott was uncooperative in the moments after the melee and was nearly arrested by WSSU campus police.

“He (Scott) was more out of control than his players were,” Reaves said at the time.

The NCAA and CIAA should impose team and individual sanctions against VSU — “commensurate with the egregious actions of its players” — including probation, loss of scholarships and an additional ban of future postseason play, the complaint states. The NCAA and CIAA should order VSU to cover the medical expenses related to Johnson’s injuries.

WSSU is continuing its investigation, Reaves said in the complaint.

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