There was no immediate feedback from Thursday’s LHSAA sportsmanship hearing for Amite High School.
The 90-minute hearing at the LHSAA office gave the Tangipahoa Parish school the chance to tell its side of the story about what happened during a football quarterfinal altercation with District 7-3A rival Bogalusa.
LHSAA assistant executive director Keith Alexander served as the moderator for the committee and deliberations began around noon. Alexander told Amite that the committee’s ruling/sanctions will be sent to them by noon Friday.
Amite was removed from the playoffs by LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine as the result of the incident that forced game officials to halt the game with about two minutes left and the Warriors leading 56-20. Bonine’s ruling automatically put St. James into the Class 3A title game against Lutcher.
“I thought we were able to clarify some things and present our side,” Amite Principal Renee Carpenter said. “We’ve worked hard with our students to develop a plan of action to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. The healing process has begun. The important thing now is to get past this (hearing) and move on.”
Alexander said the ruling/sanctions for both schools will be released at the same time. Bogalusa’s sportsmanship hearing was last month. The media may not be notified of the findings/sanctions for both schools until Monday, he said.
Carpenter started her testimony by telling the committee she thought what happened was “regrettable and embarrassing” and that she was working to see that nothing like it happens again under her leadership. Carpenter also stated it was never Amite’s intention to conceal what happened, saying that she was under the impression that the game officials would report the incident to the LHSAA.
A key concern in Bonine’s initial ruling was the fact neither school or the officials from the Thibodaux Football Officials Association reported the incident until Sunday, nearly two days after it took place. The fact players who leave the bench during a fight are automatically suspended for the next game regardless of their involvement in a fight also was a major point.
Game referee Danny Gunn of the Thibodaux Football Officials Association and Amite football coach Zephaniah Powell also were among those testified before the committee made up of Iowa Principal Mike Oakley, Arcadia Principal Jeffrey Sampson and Sophie B. Wright Principal Sharon Clark.
Oakley praised the plan of action for future events that Carpenter and her staff presented, noting it includes ideas other schools can use.
Gunn said 36 penalties were called in the game, but only four were for unsportsmanlike penalties. Powell described seeing one of his players “assaulted” by Bogalusa players and said a BHS coach helped shield the Amite player.
Carpenter said she has disciplined two players and one manager who left the bench during the altercation that reportedly included players from both teams and fans who had scaled the fence to enter the field. She was asked why more players weren’t disciplined, by the committee. Carpenter noted that she wasn’t able to identify others involved. Carpenter said she felt the “seniors were punished enough” by the playoff ban.
Amite reiterated its contention that more players were on the field when the altercation unfolded because the offense was leaving the field and special teams players were coming out, saying those players didn’t leave the bench.