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Friday, December 13
Brawl after 1-AA playoff game leads to stiff penalties
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The NCAA banned one player and suspended 13 who brawled after a game at Western Illinois, including some who will miss Western Kentucky's Division I-AA semifinal playoff Saturday.
The Dec. 7 fight followed Western Kentucky's 31-28 playoff victory over Western Illinois on a last-minute field goal. The Hilltoppers play Saturday at Georgia Southern for the chance to play for the I-AA championship against Villanova or McNeese State.
The NCAA on Friday banned one player from future postseason play, suspended a total of 13 players for at least one future playoff game and reprimanded 13 more.
The player banned from future postseason play, Chris Riviere, a junior defensive back, already had been dismissed by Western Kentucky officials after the brawl.
None of Western Kentucky's starters is among those suspended.
Hilltopper players Alex Dukes, Darius McCrimmon and Montaze Trumbo and Western Illinois players Ryle Iris and Doran Yilla received suspensions for two postseason games. Antonio Thomas and Shawn McCrimmon of Western Kentucky, and Jason McWilliams, Chris McNutt, Mike Tetzel, James Rennick, Jason Baksas and Chad Dunn of Western Illinois were suspended for one postseason game.
The suspensions do not apply to regular-season games.
"We did not instigate the postgame fight on December 7th, but we did retaliate and some of our players responded with inappropriate behavior,'' Western Kentucky coach Jack Harbaugh said. "We apologize for our involvement and fully accept the sanctions of the NCAA.''
At least two players sustained minor injuries. Helmets and fists were thrown in the fight, which broke out at midfield after Western Illinois missed a 61-yard field goal with no time on the clock that would have tied the game. The two schools had tied for the Gateway Conference regular-season title.
Harbaugh said he hoped the sanctions serve "as a deterrent for all involved in healthy athletic competition.''
The NCAA said it reprimanded players because their conduct, while not blatantly unsportsmanlike, made the situation worse.
"The incident that occurred last Saturday brought disgrace to the Division I-AA Football Championship and the sport of college football,'' said Joe Sterrett, chairman of the committee and athletic director at Lehigh. "We felt compelled to take strong action in what we believe would be in the best interest of the championship and the sport.''
Those reprimanded, but not handed other sanctions, included three Hilltoppers starters: receiver Jerome Reaves, safety Brian Lowder and linebacker Jon Drummond. Trent Willis, Anthony Bates, Bryan Adams and Tyrone Mareko of Western Kentucky; and Western Illinois' Stacy Coleman, Quinlan Porter, Ray Dukes, Terrence Hall, Travis Glasford, Johnny Lormile also were reprimanded.
"We truly regret what happened last Saturday,'' Western Illinois coach Don Patterson said. "We teach our student-athletes to respect their opponents, and we will not condone this type of behavior at any time.''
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