Morgan St. will replay brawl game

January 21, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

The Morgan State-North Carolina A&T basketball game that was suspended after a bench-clearing brawl will be replayed in an empty gymnasium, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference said yesterday.

MEAC commissioner Ken Free did not set a date or site for making up the Jan. 11 game, but said yesterday that no fans or media would be in attendance.

Free also said the teams' brawl demonstrated that MEAC teams aren't schooled in NCAA rules dealing with fighting, and the league plans to begin further educating its member schools.

Morgan State coach Michael Holmes, however, seemed taken aback by the criticism and said his players' safety comes first.

The incident, which Free said lasted no more than eight seconds, began when Morgan State's Michael Brewer and North Carolina A&T's Thomas Garner began fighting toward the end of the first half with Morgan leading 35-31. Players from both benches rushed the court, and when the scuffle was sorted out 30 minutes later, ejections left the teams with three players each -- forcing the suspension of the game.

Two Morgan players, Brewer and guard Chico Langston, were ejected for fighting, along with Garner, Thad Young and Kevin Chamberlain of North Carolina A&T. Under NCAA rules amended in 1991, a second fight would result in the players missing the rest of the season.

In criticism seemingly aimed at league coaches, Free said in the prepared statement that "a poor job is being done to control the players not in the game and other bench personnel. I am imploring the MEAC presidents and chancellors to continually remind their coaches of conduct responsibilities, and I think institutions should take more control in disciplining their own."

Morgan State's Holmes said: "I'm not going to be criticized as if we have no control over the kids," said Holmes. "You see guys jumping on our players, you don't think about keeping guys on the bench. The first thing that comes to mind is to get out there and help your kid.

"If I've got a kid being cold-cocked three or four times, I'll do the same thing," he added. "I'm going to support him, help him from being hurt."

North Carolina A&T coach Don Corbett, whose team was playin last night, could not be reached for comment.

Free said: "It concerns me because there are enough peopl involved that it scares you to death. We need to make people realize that two suspensions and you're out for the year. The penalty is devastating, and teams could wind up seriously short-handed. If I knew I was going to lose players, I'd be a bit more concerned.

"We want to let everyone know that we're not a fighting league," he said. "We want our presidents to talk to the coaches and let them know that if a fight breaks out on the court, the officials should be given the opportunity to handle it. Our coaches need to pay a little more attention to their benches.

"Kids have a tendency to rush to the aid of their teammates, and coaches run out there trying to separate people," Free added. "We have three people in striped shirts who can get most of that done."

After the fight, it took 30 minutes to sort out the situation as officials looked at videotapes of the incident. After the ejections, the officials first were going to resume the game as a three-on-three contest, but then decided to suspend it. The makeup game -- to be played in its entirety, minus the five players who were ejected for fighting -- will be scheduled sometime after the second game between the teams on Feb. 22 at Morgan State. The MEAC holds its conference tournament March 3-7. Free said the game most likely would be at a neutral site.

"I think that if you replay anything, you want to eliminate as much of the past as possible, and possibly it will be a better atmosphere," Free said.

Asked about having no fans at the makeup game, Holmes said: "I don't understand that. What is the game for, if it's not to entertain people? I just don't understand the rationale of it."

There have been NCAA games played without fans in attendance. Several games were played in empty gymnasiums two years ago when viruses swept through several college campuses, the NCAA said.

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