HBCU Game Time

Winston-Salem QB Beaten

The HBCU sports season is officially on, and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU GameTime will provide a weekly rundown on what’s happening on the field, and occasionally other sports-related topics. Let’s play!

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

“It’s a sad day for HBCUS.” Those are the words of Winston-Salem State head football coach Connell Maynor.

After a fight broke out in the bathroom at the CIAA Football Championship luncheon on the campus of Winston-Salem State University on Friday, Winston-Salem State quarterback Rudy Johnson suffered a swollen eye and a laceration above his eye while Virginia State running back Lamont Brit was arrested and charged with assault and inflicting serious injury.

As a result, the CIAA football championship game and the events of the weekend, which included the volleyball championship game, were canceled.  (The volleyball championship game will be played this Saturday on the campus of Fayetteville State).

I have had a lot of people say to me first Grambling, now this.


The two are very much different.  What those Grambling players did was stand up for what they thought was right, which brought to light many ills including the true struggles for Grambling State University financially.

Still, there are so many questions that remain unanswered, most notably, what precipitated this?  Does the backup running back from one team arbitrarily beat up the star quarterback from the other team?

Furthermore, the CIAA board of directors convened an emergency conference call on Saturday and “based upon available information, and in the best interest of the conference and its member-institutions,” the board of directors declared VSU ineligible to participate in the 2013 football postseason.  Even if the Trojans did not win the CIAA championship, there was still the possibility of making the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

On the surface, I would question this move because of the actions of a few individuals.  I will also say the fallout from this is happening daily, so perhaps there is more information that we aren’t privy to.

In no way, shape or form did Johnson deserve what happened to him.  It is inexcusable and reprehensible.  But were there some actions by the Winston-Salem State players?

Winston-Salem State has a more recent history of this kind of machismo, trash talk, this-is-my-house kind of behavior that can get fights started.  For example, Shaw University and WSSU almost got into fisticuffs prior to their game a few weeks ago.  A week later, the Rams players tried to bait the Fayetteville State players during pregame.  FSU was not having it.

Johnson explained his side of what happened at a news conference on Monday at Winston-Salem State.

“I go to wash my hands and somebody tapped me on my back.  I turned around and I got hit,” Johnson said.  “So when I squared him up, somebody hit me on my blind side. I fell and a felt about four or five guys on me and kicking me. Then when my teammates came out of the stall, they all ran out of the bathroom.”

I feel bad for the volleyball teams because their weekend was ruined.  I feel bad for those that made weekend plans and spent money.  How does the conference compensate its sponsors who paid money for ads to run during this nationally televised game?

How does the conference handle this event moving forward?  Would this have happened at a neutral site?  The game and surrounding events had been held in Durham, North Carolina since 2007.  There are currently no CIAA schools in Durham because North Carolina Central made the transition to Division I in 2007.

Right now, there are still more questions than answers and I’m sure even more will come out of this.  The one thing that is certain is that it is a sad and embarrassing moment for the CIAA, Virginia State, Winston-Salem State, and HBCUs.

You can follow Donal Ware on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorow

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