The Indiana High School Athletic Association has handed out suspensions and probation for last Friday night’s football fight between Arsenal Technical High School and Fort Wayne South High School in Indianapolis.
Both head coaches will sit down for this Friday’s games, as will a number of their players, and both teams have lost an assistant coach for the rest of the season.
“You have to know that 15 and 16-year-old students are going to play with emotion,” said IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox. “It was a hard play out of bounds that escalated into an event that shouldn’t have occurred.”
With a minute left in the third quarter, and Arsenal Tech up by 24-6, a Fort Wayne South player tackled a Tech running back out of bounds.
As captured on home video, both benches emptied, coaches traded punches and fans and police spilled onto the field.
“The head coach, for example, they have the responsibility to make sure that their team box is under control,” said Cox, “and when you leave the team box, that really is an ejectionable offense, and that needs to be discussed at the beginning of the season.
“Here we are in the sixth week of the season and we’ve got a bench clearing incident and we’ve got both schools out in the middle of the field where punches were exchanged and people were bucked to the ground. That needs to be discussed by the head coach and his coaching staff before the season even begins.”
Cox has declared the game a double forfeit, meaning both teams lose.
The teams will be on probation for the rest of the season but remain eligible for post-season tournament play.
“There are things that are going to occur in a football game,” said Cox. “It’s a collision sport. People get tackled and get hit and they get emotional and when that happens sometimes their emotion gets out of control but that’s no warrant or no reason for a student or a coach to enter the playing field and leave the team box.”
Cox said coaches and players will undergo a retraining on the issues of sportsmanship, most likely by watching videos.
The IHSAA will leave it up to Arsenal Tech to determine if the fans who came onto the field during the fight should be sanctioned.
IPS issued the following response Tuesday night:
“In a proactive response to its football team’s role in the Friday night altercation with the Fort Wayne South High School football team, Arsenal Technical High School has announced the following action steps, which were presented to the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) Tuesday evening. These steps are being taken in addition to directives outlined Tuesday by Bobby Cox, Commissioner of the IHSAA:
- The Arsenal Technical football coach in question has been dismissed from the football program.
- 8 football players ejected from the game with Fort Wayne South will serve one-game suspensions.
- Two sets of parents who entered the field during the altercation will be banned from all Arsenal Tech athletic events for the 2013-2014 school year.
- Tech football players will be required to remain behind their position coaches at all times, to ensure any opposing player on the Tech sidelines is escorted back to the field of play in a non confrontational manner and players must clear out of the way of any game official.
- Tech Athletic Director Victor Bush has addressed coaches and players about appropriate ways to handle challenging situations and sportsmanship expectations.
- A formal letter of apology will be sent to to the Fort Wayne South principal, athletic director, football coach and district superintendent.
- The Arsenal Tech football team will complete a service learning project to demonstrate the positive attributes of the student athletes.
- Student athletes will be mentored in character and leadership development opportunities on a weekly basis.
“The Arsenal Tech student body, football players and coaches will be addressed by the principal on proper ways to handle challenging situations and sportsmanship expectations.”