The Indiana High School Athletic Association cancelled the remainder of the varsity girls’ basketball seasons for Ben Davis and Pike high schools Monday following a massive brawl that erupted over the weekend at a game between the two teams.
According to Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star, the fracas began with Pike leading 57-41 in the fourth quarter. The benches of both teams cleared and a number of spectators spilled onto the court, creating a potentially dangerous situation for the basketball players on both teams.
As a result of the fray, the association banned both schools from participating in next month’s girls’ state basketball tournament and cancelled all remaining regular-season girls’ varsity contests. The schools’ junior varsity and freshmen girls’ squads are allowed to finish out the remainder of their seasons, but no one who came onto the court during Saturday’s melee is allowed to participate. In addition, each coach from both schools and all student-athletes present at the contest must complete online training modules before they’re allowed to participate in sports again.
The association also placed both schools’ girls’ basketball teams on probation for the 2016-17 school year, which “is official notice that severe violations have occurred, are a matter of record and future, similar incidents will not be tolerated.” If either team fails “to adhere to the stated by-laws” of the association, it could result in their entire school being suspended from IHSAA sports.
“This unfortunate episode between these two schools in no manner reflects the pride and tradition of their respective girls basketball programs, yet an egregious and dangerous event has transpired which calls for swift, stern and consistent correction,” IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said in a statement. “The IHSAA takes no pleasure in the issuance of these sanctions, nevertheless remains staunchly committed to proper sportsmanship and decorum in the interscholastic athletic setting.”
Just over a year ago, the association confronted a similar situation with Hammond and Griffith high schools, cancelling the remainder of each school’s boys’ basketball team’s season following a bench-clearing brawl. Each school was assessed a $500.00 forfeiture fee for each remaining away contest on its team’s schedule. Both schools ultimately filed a civil case against the association and received a temporary restraining order, which allowed them entrance into the state basketball tournament. Griffith wound up winning its regional final and advancing all the way to the state finals, where it lost 62-56 to Guerin Catholic High School.
At the moment, Cox isn’t sure whether either Ben Davis or Pike will take similar legal action against the association. Based on his comments to the Star, however, he doesn’t appear to be too stressed about it.
“I can’t speak for what a group might do and try to sue the association. The penalty we issued today is consistent with what we did last year, and we will remain consistent. If it happens again, it’s going to be the same penalty. And it is the same penalty. If it happens again, it’s going to be the same penalty. Eventually, we’re going to get the message across to our student-athletes, coaches and fans that this is unacceptable at this level. We aren’t going to tolerate it.”
Ben Davis Chief Communications Officer Mary Lang said in an email to the paper that it would “comply with the consequences,” according to Neddenriep. At the moment, it’s unclear whether Pike plans on doing the same.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.