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

Posted at 11:05 AM, Nov 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-18 18:57:23-05

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.