The Southwestern Athletic Conference on Thursday suspended 16 Southern University football players, including several starters, for at least one game in the wake of Saturday’s brawl after losing to Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Starting linebacker Jamie Payton, cornerback LaMarkius Pettaway and kick returner Byron Williams were the three players suspended for two games.
At least 25 players from Arkansas-Pine Bluff have been recommended for suspensions, according to the announcement.
“We agree with the conference office’s decision,” said Southern Chancellor James Llorens in a prepared statement. “It is in line with the disciplinary action the university was considering. Coach Stump Mitchell may also impose additional sanctions of his own.”
“This was an unfortunate incident that Southern University does not condone,” Llorens said. “We extend our apologies to the university community and to those persons who love this institution.”
The Jaguars who face the one-game suspension are: wide receiver Lee Doss, wide receiver LaQuinton Evans, defensive lineman Kenneth Hill Jr., safety Levi Jackson, running back Kaelan Mayfield, defensive back Jaleel Richardson, linebacker Corry Roy, safety Marlon Smith, wide receiver William Waddell, linebacker Franchot West, running back Terrell Alex and linebackers Anthony Balancier and Daniel Brown.
Evans, Jackson and West were considered starters.
Southern Board of Supervisors Chairman Darren Mire of New Orleans said he supports the suspension decisions.
“It’s unfortunate, but we have to lay down the discipline that’s necessary,” Mire said in a phone interview.
Calling Stump Mitchell a “disciplined coach,” Mire said he does not believe the coach should be punished for the post-game fight.
But that does not mean he is ready to endorse Mitchell returning as coach next year, Mire said, with the team suffering through a 2-5 season.
“It’s hard to say,” Mire said, when asked it he expects Mitchell back next season. “He has another year left on his contract. We’ll see what happens.”
Mire said he hopes the Jaguars go undefeated the rest of the year.
The fight in Arkansas started shortly after Southern scored at the very end of the game, bringing the Jaguars to within one point. But the extra point was blocked, securing the 22-21 win for UAPB.
The brawl included dozens of players, including some who swung their helmets as weapons, and Jefferson County sheriffs using pepper spray in an attempt to break up the mob.
Most of the action happened near Southern’s sideline.
Linebackers West and Payton were seen throwing punches. But dozens of players from both teams traded punches and kicks.
Pettaway, who was seen swinging his helmet, also inhaled pepper spray and needed an oxygen mask.
Interim Southern Athletic Director Sandy Pugh stated in the announcement that there were several factors that led to the brawl.
“It was another tough, late game loss for our players and there had been problems during the game from UAPB fans behind our bench,” Pugh said. “It did not help that many of their players came to our side of the field to taunt our team after the close loss.
“However,” Pugh added, “this is no excuse for what happened. Our players have to be smarter in these types of stressful situations.”
Southern is off this weekend and next plays Alcorn State on Oct. 29 at A.W. Mumford Stadium. The Jaguars play Nov. 5 at Texas Southern.
The players are not permitted in the stadium while suspended.