Winston-Salem State, Virginia State discuss fight that canceled CIAA title

By Chip Patterson | College Writer

Winston-Salem State and Virginia State held competing press conferences on Monday, each giving much different accounts of the fight that resulted in the cancellation of the CIAA conference championship game.

The CIAA declared Virginia State ineligible for the Division II playoffs after several Virginia State players attacked Winston-Salem State's starting quarterback before the conference championship game. The conference canceled the title game immediately, then declared Virginia State ineligible for the playoffs after an emergency meeting of its board of directors.

VSU coach Latrell Scott said there was a "rush to judgment" during a press conference that was apparently quite contentious due to the presence of team member and parents frustrated that the team's season was ended because of the incident.

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

Winston-Salem State quarterback Rudy Johnson spoke to the media with sunglasses to conceal the physcial damage around his right eye from the fight.

Here are details of the fight, according to Johnson:

via Joedy McCreary, of the AP

He said when he entered the bathroom, the Virginia State players asked if he was the Rams' starting quarterback and as he washed his hands, "somebody hit me on my blind side."

He said he felt "four or five feet stomping on me and kicking me" and the Virginia State players fled when two other Winston-Salem State players emerged from their bathroom stalls.

Johnson said he couldn't identify the Virginia State players because, "I could barely see the guy who hit me until after he hit me."

The QB said he has not hired an attorney, has not decided whether to bring criminal charges but declared that, "I'm positive I'll play Saturday."

Virginia State officials have refused to comment on the details of the fight, citing the ongoing investigation. Running back Lamont Daniel Britt has since been charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury.

WSSU chancellor Donald Reaves said his school plans to file a formal complaint with the CIAA and the NCAA, saying Virginia State "lacked institutional control over its football team when they came to our campus."

Virginia State President Keith T. Miller said the school is cooperating with authorities and conducting its own investigation into the matter, with hopes of conluding the process "in the next week."

Britt is suspended indefinitely pending the outcome on the school's investigation.

"We're as frustrated as anyone," Miller said. "We're as dismayed as anyone. We're a family at Virginia State University and this has been challenging for everyone involved. Everyone involved.

"So we're doing the best we can in regards to responding, but there are a lot of issues still out there, and we look forward to having those issues resolved and having the facts come out."

Winston-Salem State is the No. 4 seed in its region in the Division II playoffs. They host the fifth-seeded Slippery Rock in the first round on Saturday.

 

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