Photo credit: Youtube

Photo credit: YouTube

Southwestern Athletic Conference head honcho Duer Sharp will have to the play the role of judge, jury and executioner after reviewing the tape of a post-game melee involving Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff football players.

Student-athletes from both schools will be suspended. They need to be suspended. Their actions were incomprehensible.

According to reports, UAPB’s Jarvis Webb blocked Southern kicker Matthew Hill’s extra-point attempt to secure a 22-21 win as time expired. A wild celebration then ensued.

Moments later words were exchanged.  It was speculated by WAFB-Baton Rouge that first punch was thrown by Southern linebacker Franchot West.  Then a large fight broke out near midfield that soon after split into multiple violent skirmishes all over the field.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff wide receiver Devontaa Brown, Southern wide receiver Desmond Vallen and defensive back  Levi Jackson were captured on film using their helmets as weapons.  

Apparently Southern defensive back LaMarkius Pettaway (who was also caught on camera throwing his helmet), along with two other players and UAPB head coach Monte Coleman were victims of pepper spray used by local authorities.

In the midst of all that, some spectators began throwing bottles onto the field and heckling players.

Southern defensive end Kenneth Hill Jr. was seen in one YouTube video confronting a fan in the bleachers. He eventually was ushered away by teammates.

After the wild event was over, both coaches had difficulty explaining what transpired.

“Coach Coleman and I were congratulating each other on a well played football game,” said Jaguar coach Stump Mitchell. “Both sides had some mistakes, both sides made some plays. That’s all I saw.”

No players from either team suffered serious injuries, school officials said.

Southern University released a statement about the incident just hours after the game ended.

“Southern University apologizes to our fans, our alumni, the Baton Rouge campus, the city of Baton Rouge, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff for the horrendous event at the conclusion of Saturday night’s game,” the statement said. “We will conduct a full and thorough review of the video footage and will take any disciplinary action necessary. No further comment will be made until after the review is conducted.”

Bottom line… there is no room for this type of behavior from the student-athlete or the fans.  What was nearly equally distributing was hearing the reaction of the young people in the stands recording the action. The vulgar language, use of the N-word and other unsavory behavior was outright disrespectful and only added to the horror of what was happening on the field. But that conduct is not at all surprising considering the society we live in.

Oh, and you had to love one of the bands blaring the Super Mario Brothers theme in the background as all hell was breaking loose on the field, almost escalating the savagery…proving that some marching bands are consumed with themselves.

It was an embarrassment to all parties involved, including the SWAC which televised the game live via its website.  A strong message must be sent by Sharpe and representatives of both universities to ensure that on-field scrums of this nature are not tolerated.

With Saturday’s loss and its banishment from the SWAC title game, Southern has nothing left to play for except for pride.  Suspensions and whatever punishments are levied will not hurt the team in the grand scheme of things this season.

UAPB on the other hand is fighting for a Western Division title, though.  Losing multiple players for however long could jeopardize hopes of the team participating in the league championship game come December.

I understand in the heat of the moment — especially after an emotionally-charged game — that athletes lose their cool.  As a one-time student-athlete at the collegiate level, I was part of an on-the field altercation during a game and a brawl well after the game was over.  While I and my teammates felt the need to stick up for our brothers, at the end of the day our actions were stupid.

We could have been seriously hurt, maimed one of the opposing student-athletes or been thrown in jail because we wanted to get our vengeance.

It’s never worth it.  When those athletes put on that uniform during a sporting event they represent themselves, coaches, teammates, families, the university and the league in which they perform.

Everyone associated with Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff received one big black eye last night.  It will take more than just a bag of ice and over-the-counter medication to recover.


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