VSU President praises coach, chooses lawyer to investigate football fight

ETTRICK, Va. (WTVR) – Virginia State University has hired Robert Clayton to conduct an investigation into the Nov. 15 fight in Winston-Salem. Clayton is an attorney affiliated with the Washington, DC firm of Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP, according to the university.

A VSU football player was arrested and the CIAA football championship game was cancelled after a Winston Salem State football player was beat up in the bathroom during a league luncheon.

“We are committed to uncovering the facts surrounding this incident,” VSU President Keith Miller said in a statement. “Robert Clayton is nationally regarded for his ability to conduct thorough, unbiased investigations.”

Miller said he expected the investigation to last two weeks.

Miller also praised his football program and head football coach Latrell Scott in an open letter to the community.

“The past few days have been extremely stressful for everyone at Virginia State University, none more so than our football coach Latrell Scott. During this turbulent period, Coach Scott has exhibited the dignity, leadership, and resilience that have characterized his tenure at VSU,” President Miller wrote. “Coach Scott understands that actions have consequences. Coach Scott’s support of his players, cooperation with authorities, and actions in facilitating the process during and following the incident, has been exemplary. Immediately reaching out to his counterpart at Winston-Salem State University with an apology and asking “what can I do?” is in keeping with the Latrell Scott who, since January, has won over players, students, faculty, and administrators.”

Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Donald J. Reaves said Winston-Salem State University will file a “formal complaint” with the NCAA and the CIAA. In the complaint, Reaves said the university will allege Virginia State University lacked “institutional control” over its football players. During a press conference last week, Reaves accused Scott of refusing to cooperate following the fight.

One VSU player, Darnell Britt, was arrested and charged with assault after he allegedly punched the starting quarterback for Winston-Salem state in a bathroom.

“On November 15, 2013, one young man made a very bad decision. That bad decision cannot and will not be condoned. However, we wholeheartedly support our head football coach, our football coaching staff, and most importantly our football players,” President Miller concluded.

Full text of President Miller’s letter:

The past few days have been extremely stressful for everyone at Virginia State University, none more so than our football coach Latrell Scott.

During this turbulent period, Coach Scott has exhibited the dignity, leadership, and resilience that have characterized his tenure at VSU. Coach Scott understands that actions have consequences. Coach Scott’s support of his players, cooperation with authorities, and actions in facilitating the process during and following the incident, has been exemplary.

Immediately reaching out to his counterpart at Winston-Salem State University with an apology and asking “what can I do?” is in keeping with the Latrell Scott who, since January, has won over players, students, faculty, and administrators.

For Coach Scott, it’s always “what can I do?” Latrell has integrated himself and his staff into every aspect of campus life and the community. As head football coach, he and his staff are active in campus activities, reaching out to the community and supporting events across campus. On Monday, the team’s day off, players mentor children at Ettrick Elementary School, living the VSU mission of service to build a better world.

The discipline and tenacity that exemplifies Coach Scott’s character is manifested in the classroom and on the field. This season, his football team boasts a cumulative 2.81 grade point average, which is above last year’s average that led the CIAA. His team’s classroom success has been mirrored on the gridiron. Chosen to finish 10th in the CIAA, the 2013 Trojans captured the Northern Division with a 9-1 record, including 7-0 in conference play. For the season, the Trojans were the second-least penalized team in the CIAA, demonstrating that the team is disciplined and competitive.

In his first interviews with Virginia State and throughout the selection process, Latrell Scott impressed the selection committee with his honesty and candor. He was the overwhelming choice of a committee that included representatives of athletics, faculty, a board member, and administrators. He has since validated the decision many-fold! Those at the highest level of VSU have taken note of Coach Scott’s leadership. In a recent conversation, VSU Rector, Harry Black, commented “I’ve been impressed with the leadership and grace under fire with which Latrell has carried himself.

His composure should serve as a model for everyone involved in this incident.” While Latrell has only been a member of the Trojan family for a short time, our assessment of his character and commitment is shared by some of the most respected names in college athletics, including head football coaches Mickey Matthews of James Madison University, Jimmye Laycock of William and Mary, and Mike London of the University of Virginia.

On November 15, 2013, one young man made a very bad decision. That bad decision cannot and will not be condoned. However, we wholeheartedly support our head football coach, our football coaching staff, and most importantly our football players.

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