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‘Fight for them’ VSU parents urge university following football fight

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ETTRICK, Va. (WTVR) - The parents of Virginia State University football players who attended a university press conference regarding a fight involving a football player and the subsequent cancellation of this weekend's CIAA title game did not seem satisfied with the actions of both league and university officials.

"Under our system of jurisprudence, a person is innocent until proven guilty. How many people are there on a football team? Why did the whole football team have to be penalized for the actions of one person?" one parent asked Virginia State University President Keith Miller and VSU Athletic Direction Peggy Davis during the press conference that, at times, more resembled an open forum.

"That's a great question, of which I don't have the answer to," President Miller replied. "I think the CIAA needs to answer that question. We're as frustrated as anyone. We're as dismayed as anyone."

University officials said they planned to launch a full investigation into Friday's events and that they looked forward to the facts coming out.

Hours after VSU officials spoke, Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Donald J. Reaves told his school's version of events and accused Virginia State of having a lack of institutional control. WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson also described what happened to him in the bathroom at the luncheon.

On Friday, VSU running back Lamont Darnell Britt, 22, of Portsmouth, Va., was charged with assault and inflicting serious injury in an attack on Johnson at a luncheon. Johnson has been suspended indefinitely. He has been released from jail and is back in Virginia.

On Saturday, CIAA officials ruled Virginia State as ineligible for the entire 2013 postseason.

"If the information we've received as parents is correct, how do we hold the CIAA Board of Directors accountable for the decisions that were made?" one mother asked VSU head football coach Latrell Scott. "My understanding is the whole process was disrespectful. If the top is corrupt, you cannot expect the children to behave themselves like presidents when the actual presidents behave themselves like children."

"We'll be doing our investigation of the entire scenario," President Miller, who stepped up to the podium, replied. Miller added he expected the investigation to take a week or so.

"Excuse me," one VSU parent interjected during the press conference. "It's very unfortunate that this incident happened. I don't condone that. I have a son. I've raised him not to do that kind of stuff. But when you have one person who makes an error in judgement, and you punish 50 others who've done it by the numbers, somebody's got to step up and say something about it. We can't wait till it's over, if we wait till it's over, they've been punished unjustly. You have to fight for them."

Chancellor Reaves said Winston-Salem State University will file a “formal complaint” with the NCAA and the CIAA following the assault.

In the complaint, Reaves said the university will allege Virginia State University lacked “institutional control” over its football players.

According to Reaves, Virginia State University’s athletic director and president were not at the banquet. The team’s coach, Latrell Scott, was the only school representative at the event.


  • chris

    Like WSSU said, the QB didn’t beat himself up. If they allowed that game to be played, it would be nothing but fights on the field and the stands. I disagree though with punishing the whole team for the actions of a few. They should be allowed in the playoffs.

  • Ryan

    The parents are now shown to be part of the problem… Why would they all be punished? Because they are a team! Win as a team lose as a team. Whatever sympathy people had towards VSU is gone…

    • KaNuri (@KaNuri)

      I agree. The game needed to be canceled and if VSU/player(s) was shown to be at fault, unfortunately the team should be penalized. It sets a dangerous precedent to allow a game to go on, especially if a star athelete of the opposing team is harmed a cannot play to his full potential or even at all. All this would do is signal to teams they can send in their 2nd string atheletes to rough up star players on another team causing a handicap in a game leading to a potential win. The other reason why the game should have been canceled was the safety of all involved, players as well as fans. The tension would have been thick during that game Saturday and sadly the media would have been reporting on fights on and off the field and possibly something more serious than just a fist fight. .

  • KJ

    @Ryan – The whole team did not go in the bathroom with the player. The whole team should not be punished. “What should have happened is that the team should have been given a strict warning. If something else jumps off during the game, on field or in the stands you can forget the playoffs for the next three years. So go tell your fans that now.” If that was said you would have saw the cleanest football game in your life. That is how a leader would have handled it instead of overreacting.

    • Ryan Herndon

      Race doesnt have anything to do with the price of rice in China… What an ignorant statement that does a disservice to people who have been the victim of racism… You sir based on your statements are trash, and it comes in all colors.

    • Melissa

      @KJ..You’re completely wrong. They’re a team, so if one projects bad conduct while they are all together, then it reflects on all of them. Remember the bounties that were being placed on NFL star quarterbacks? Well it was individual members of the team who would injure other players, but the entire team got penalized, including the players who had nothing to do with it. And sorry, but I really do not believe that the other players from VSU had no idea what their teammate did. I bet it was to stop the victim from being able to play

      • KJ

        You actually think people are that shady? Wow. No player wants to play an uneven game. That takes all the fun out of it. I believe it would have been a close game but VSU would have won.

    • Aaron

      You are the one bringing race into it not anyone else. It is no different than a college getting caught by the NCAA for doing something wrong and the whole team is not eligible for a bowl game or anything. In that case its not even a player on the team that is doing wrong it is the college itself. Also in a workplace they have bonuses for the entire workplace being injury free but if one person gets hurt no one gets a bonus. Same principal. Lets see if you want to talk race, NASCAR one of the whitest sports there is, if one person on the team gets caught doing something wrong the whole team is punished. So it is no different in any sport and in real life.

  • Lynn

    I am so tired of hearing about people offended for being “disrespected.” How about you EARN that respect. When your player beats up the opponent’s quarterback, that just doesn’t encourage respectfulness. Win as a team, get punished as a team. That’s the way it is.

  • J C

    “Under our system of jurisprudence, a person is innocent until proven guilty.” But the CIAA is not a government agency and, therefore, is not part of our system of jurisprudence. It can make its decisions based on its own rules and governance.

  • chris

    Well KJ, the next time Harvard football players beat up the Yale quarterback in the bathroom. We will see if they are treated differently because they are a white team….I doubt most people outside the area, know that these are historically black colleges. It is just an observation on how out of control college sports are.

  • Tamela Hinton

    The public only knows what WSSU presented to the media. There is a lot more to this story; but in the meantime, the media and the public has rushed to judgement (as usual). Whenever black men are involved the public is more apted to believe the worse. Do people really think that Britt walked into the bathroom and started beating up Rudy Johnson? Has anyone asked what precipitated the fight? Why do we all assume that Mr. Johnson had no ownership in what happened in that bathroom? Is it possible that he may have thrown the first blow and Britt was defending himself? For the time being, Britt is innocent and must be proven guilty in a courtroom. The court of public opinion has already convicted that young man, VSU football as well as the University. White kids do horrible things everyday too, but the police and the public view their behavior as “college pranks” or “childish antics”. There is a serious double standard at work in this country. I’m not trying to diminish the seriousness of the event, but I would like to see people being more objective before rushing to judgement. The comment made about the parents being the problem was ridiculous. All good parents should advocate and demand what is best for their child. This situation is no different.

  • Zsa Tomlinson

    No matter who is at fault, the mere fact that it got out of hand to the point of an injury and jail time on a college campus, in a college building is disgraceful. Unsportmanlike conduct and actions that jeopardize not just the responsible indiviudal but the team says little to the self control of those involved.

  • Terry

    Not sure if anyone remembers this, but a few years ago Lagerrat Blount sucker punched a guy after the game while the players were exchanging hand shakes. Blount went to the university of Oregon a nationally ranked team, he was suspended from the team for 4 weeks if I’m not mistaken. A huge fight broke out between the teams but no one lost the chance to go to a bowl game, no crimmal charges were ever brought up, the schools handled the situation. So why is it so different this time? Hate to say it but it’s because it’s a black school. Things like this happen a lot in college sports and the schools deal with it not the governing body of a confrence. Yes punish those involved but not a whole team.

  • KJ


    • Thorpe Family

      KJ, the comment you made about the starting QB for VSU is a blatant lie!! If I knew who you were, our attorney would be contacting you to force you to give proof or submit a public apology. Don’t start accusing people in a public forum because you assume that you can’t be identified. More than most players on that team, the Seniors had a lot at stake. Thorpe was not baited into a fight nor did he participate in the ensuing fight.

  • M.L. Adams

    Apparently the CIAA doesn’t intend to condone and/or ignore inappropriate behavior by their athletes…unlike the NFL!

  • Nat Wilson

    As a former player at VSU, I condemn the actions that occurred on Friday. Every player involved should be punished. That being said, the game should have been played. Nothing would have happened on the field but a good football game. Appropriate security measures in the crowd would have prevented any outbreak in the stands and parking lot..Accusations by the Chancellor of WSSU about the character of Coach Scott was totally out of bounds and unprofessional by a school administrator.
    As for the President and AD of VSU; in the absence of of a full investigation, it is not acceptble to take decision of the CIAA and NCAA to put WSSU in the playoffs lying down. Support for your Student Athletes can never be compromised even in the light of ‘politically correctness’. You are better than that. The VSU community needs to see you STRONG.

  • Phillip Carroll Johnson

    Simply no excuse ,none what so ever. And the parents, what is to be said, I believe they have done enough (damage) condoning such thug behavior. In My opinion, the entire VSU football organization and program, should be given the sports version of the death penalty.

    Petersburg, VA

  • Betty

    What made me angry was the mother on the news who said that the boy that was beaten up must have provoked it. That my friends is the problem in a nutshell! No wonder these thugs don’t know any better. You have their parents blaming the victim. What a DISGRACE!!!!!!!! Lady, your son might not have thrown a punch, or maybe he did, but for you to act like the violence was warranted is ridiculous!

  • CIAA FB Dad

    The response by VSU players, parents, and alum leave no doubt that what the conference did was appropriate. There is no right to play in a game and these are institutions of higher learning. We are not the NFL nor are we football factories. These men are students who play football who have to be prepared to go out into the workforce…and to deal with effectively resolving conflict. You have a lot to lose, whatever happened to just walking away? Why is the only suitable response physical violence regardless of who initiated the confrontation?

    Do any of you think for one minute this is how we should encoyrage our young men to resolve differences in the corporate world, teaching in a classroom, or on campus?

    We need to demand a higher degree of accountability from our young men and not allow them to shrink from responsibility. This is bad behavior that cast all member schools, HBCUs, and student athletes in a horrible light,

  • Dustin Cavanaugh

    As I sit here and read the comments I am in awe. People think the whole team should be punished even if they had nothing to do with it. Do you also think we should bomb the entire middle east, even the innocent women and children? That is the logic that is being used here. None of the teammates not involved could have known, nor should they be responsible for some idiot. Just because he was part of the team doesn’t mean VSU can predict the future. I swear the logic I see in so many responses here is just saddening due to how flawed the thought process involved is.

    • Aaron

      We have not won a war since we started caring about if it were women or children or not. WWII is the last real war that our country just obliterated no matter who may be in the way and we plain out won. That is why no one messed with us for a while is because they knew we were not playing. Now they know ever since Vietnam that we are a bunch of pu$$ies and don’t do things like we used to.

  • chris

    Looks like strike three for Latrell Scott’s coaching career. If he was trying to cover this up, then he has to go. I don’t mind him not snitching on his players, but if he lied that is another matter. What kind of example does that set? Granted the majority of college coaches out there would have done the same unfortunately.

    • Aaron

      If it does come out that he lied to cover it up I hope he is CRIMINALLY charged with obstruction of justice. Hell even if he knew and didn’t “snitch” he could be charged.

  • Jason A. Powers

    WSSU says that VSU doesn’t have institutional control of its players because VSU president and the athletic director were not at the banquet, for your information WSSU, the president has a whole university to worry about, and the AD has more than one sport and one team to worry about, WSSU you can’t tell me that your president and AD go to every single function of every team and every organization associated with your university, I’m sorry your player got hurt, but sit down and shut up about institutional control until your president and AD go to every single activity.

  • Albert

    Particular importance is the concept of different types of teams. A distinction is usually drawn between “independent” and “interdependent” teams. To continue the sports team example, a rugby team is clearly an interdependent team:
    no significant task can be accomplished without the help and cooperation of any of the members;
    within that team members typically specialize in different tasks and
    the success of every individual is inextricably bound to the success of the whole team. No rugby player, no matter how talented, has ever won a game by playing alone.
    Coaching an “interdependent” team like a football team necessarily requires a different approach from coaching an “independent” team because the costs and benefits to individual team members — and therefore the intrinsic incentives for positive team behaviors — are very different. An interdependent team benefits from getting to know the other team members socially, from developing trust in each other, and from conquering artificial challenges (such as offered in outdoors ropes courses).

  • Albert

    When a penalty is given to a “Team” lets say because of a pass interference or holding call by a “Player” while playing, The entire team is penalized 10 yards..not the individual player. We are united as a team but when it cost us a great loss we claim individual action? Its a sad issue to face but where does the accountability take place.

  • JMAU

    These parents are ignorant. It’s a team sport made up of individuals. W-S’ quarterback was the only one hurt, yet that affects his entire team.

    It’s no different for the ignorant s.o.b. who attacked him. He and his team are suffering because his actions.

    The officials are 100% on the money in cancelling the game. You don’t shrug off and/or reward thugs.

  • Steve

    Disrespect or not,doesn’t give those boys the right to asault the young man.kick those players out of school,definitely off the football team.If I was the alumni or parents I would be embarrassed of the players and coach.Bunch of animals.all alumni and parents are worried about is football.You all don’t care what happened to that young man.If that was va.state player what would you do.

  • AW

    Some of the comments on this forum are unbelievable!! To attack the parents of the VSU football players is shameful!! Those of us that have children would like to believe that they would handle themselves in a mature, respectful, responsible manner if confronted with such an issue. However, we cannot guarantee that they will. You can raise your child in the most upstanding way, send them to the best schools, have them in church every Sunday, and, still, they may display disappointing behavior. Hence, all of the politicians, ministers, and other highly esteemed people having issues, legal and otherwise, with their kids. The mother some of you spoke of has been an advocate, not only for her children, but all children, for many years. She did not say she condoned the fighting. She merely pointed out that it does need to be investigated why the fight started in the first place. And it does need to be investigated. Everything first released to the public came from WSSU. Do you not think they were biased? They continue to lie and say the QB was beat up by 5 VSU players. Well, if these 5 players are the “thugs” that they have so erroneously been labeled, I’m quite certain, he would have much more to show for it than a blackened eye. You see 5 thugs would have had him needing extended medical treatment and he certainly would not have been smiling in a tv interview 2 days later. Look through the BS and see the truth!! Stop accepting what someone tells you and THINK!! And why would this young man just walk in and hit the other young man? Perhaps because the injured young man hit him first and he felt the need to defend himself? You can’t pick a fight and then get mad and cry foul when you lose!! WSSU are the darlings of the CIAA and they are not being held accountable for their player’s actions. Had that young man behaved in a respectable manner, he would not have been touched. But, we must remember, that every action has a reaction. In this case, the WSSU QB did not get the reaction he was counting on. Mr. Britt was the 2nd VSU player that he tried to bait into a fight. The first player did not entertain the QB. Unfortunately, Mr. Britt handled it differently. However, if someone approaches and touches you in a hostile manner, would you defend yourself? I do agree the game should have been postponed or cancelled. But VSU should have remained in the playoffs just as WSSU remained. And yes, teams are penalized when one player makes a mistake ON the field/court. However, only the player is penalized when he/she makes a personal mistake off the field. If someone in your family goes to jail, should the whole family go or just the person who committed the crime? Lastly, the WSSU chancellor’s attack on Coach Scott’s personal trials was distasteful, inexcusable, and unprofessional. Chancellor Reaves should be disciplined by the CIAA for his vicious remarks. The only statements should have come from the CIAA, not from a biased person. VSU has produced quality, educated, citizens and I’m sure they will continue this practice. Although I have never attended VSU, I have relatives who are alumni of that university and I also have taken the time to research their academic programs and successes.

    • KJ #2

      Well said. The only I will add is that the CIAA has no control over the NCAA playoffs. VSU’s only chance to go to the playoffs was to play and win the WSSU game. I think the game could have been played maybe that Sunday. (I know that would have inconvenienced some) I think the game being cancelled triggered the media attention. The CIAA added gas to the fire. If the game would have been played we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      A proud VSU alum.

  • Kimberly S.

    I didn’t know WSSU arrested students who fight. My daughter still has a scar in her face after being attack by a suite mate while living in a WSSU dormitory. The student was moved to another room and told not to mess with my daughter again. WSSU should arrest its students when they fight!

    WSSU Chancellor Donald Reaves should stop his self-righteous attitude. It is as if he has no memory of the number of parents who sought his assistance after their children were injured in dorm fights and Trae Cotton and WSSU police refused to pursue the matter.

    From this day forward, WSSU has to arrest students who fight, bully, or threaten others while on its campus. Otherwise, the concern WSSU has shown for its star quarterback is related only to the success of its football program. WSSU should have the same concern for all of its students.

    • Tamela Hinton

      That’s interesting. Chancellor Reaves had a press conference to denounce, humiliate and condemn VSU based on the behavior of one person. Not only did he condemn the young men, he stated the behavior was directly related to the coach. I feel comfortable saying that the incident that happened to your daughter was a direct reflection of the arrogance and negligent behavior I’ve seen from the good Chancellor! I dare say that the tone of that banquet and the subsequent malay was a direct reflection of the Chancellor.

      I feel for Rudy Johnson, but I definitely feel for you. Rudy would have the public believe that the VSU players didn’t know who the opposing QB was, but anyone with sports knowledge knows that EVERYONE in that room new both of the QBs’. Rudy is NOT telling the truth and he may be getting some coaching lesson from the “good Chancellor”.

  • AW

    Well said, Tamela!! Watching the good chancellor and the QB’s performances made me sick to my stomach. The arrogrance and self righteousness was awful. Again, I say the CIAA should discipline the good chancellor for his comments, rather his personal attacks, on the VSU players and head coach. Perhaps people here in VA should research the disciplinary infractions at WSSU (those that don’t involve football players) just as some in Winston-Salem chose to dig up any and all dirt on VSU. I see why they seem so squeaky clean at WSSU-things are getting covered up! At least at VSU, they are taught that your actions will not be hidden for you! The truth still has not come out!!

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