BREAKING: Southland suspends 8 for brawl

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Southland Conference Commissioner Chris Grant came down hard on those at the center of Monday night’s postgame bench-clearing brawl between Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Commerce.

After Commerce’s 76-72 overtime victory, the teams exchanged punches as multiple fights broke out during and after the handshake line.

The ugliness lasted almost 2 minutes and encompassed most of the court with several players on both sides throwing multiple punches. The debacle made national news and gave the Southland a black eye during a resurgent basketball season.

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The game announcers claimed a young girl and manager seemed to be injured during the melee.

The league handed down its punishment on Wednesday.

The Southland suspended eight players, four from each team. Seven of those players received multiple-game suspensions.

All suspensions will begin immediately, the league said in a news release.

Cardinals’ point guard Elijah Davis was suspended three games while center Gabe Beny Til, forward Marcus Glover and guard Alex Anderson were given two-game suspensions. None will play Saturday when UIW visits McNeese State.

As for Commerce, Jerome Brewer, Ant Abraham and Kwo Agwa will sit out three games each while Prince Davies was suspended for one game. Commerce will play Saturday at Nicholls State. The Colonels are one of three teams tied for second, three games behind McNeese.

Each of the players was officially suspended for what the Southland called “ flagrant unsportsmanlike actions.”

Grant released the following statement: “The Southland Conference Board of Directors has set clear expectations for sportsmanship and behavior of our student-athletes, coaches, and spectators during and after competitions. Unfortunately, these expectations were not met on Monday night, and the Southland Conference will not tolerate any unsportsmanlike behavior. I would like to extend our appreciation to A&M-Commerce Athletics Director Jim Curry and UIW Athletics Director Richard Duran for their unwavering partnership and diligent resolution of this matter.”

The teams released a joint statement Monday night after the incident.

“The unsportsmanlike conduct that occurred after the game does not reflect the values of the universities involved, as well as the Southland Conference and their member institutions,” the statement read.

Earlier on Wednesday McNeese head coach Will Wade said the Cowboys will adjust to whomever is available to play against them Saturday.

“We have to play to our standards no matter who we are playing against,” he said. “We have got a lot on the line. We have a lot to play for and that should be more engrossing to our guys.”

Wade said McNeese will likely have to adjust to the officiating, which will likely be much tighter in the aftermath as the league could attempt to clamp down on physical play to lower the temperature.

“Anytime there is an incident like that the natural reaction is to tighten the screws more,” he said. “More eyes will be on these games. I’m going to talk to our guys about it.”

Wade didn’t comment on the incident itself.

“I don’t comment on situations I don’t have all the information on,” he said. “Whatever happened, happened. There are people who have a lot more information on it than me.

“I have had people talk about me and they didn’t have all the information on me so I’m not going to comment on people I don’t have all the information on.”
Wade said he considered it more of a game management issue and something everybody in the league should learn from and address moving forward.