Violence on fields of play proves costly for schools

December 10, 2004

Violence in American professional sports has spilled over into university athletics, with costly repercussions.

Less than a day after a brawl on a basketball court between players from the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons and their fans, football players from rivals Clemson University and the University of South Carolina had their fight broadcast on national television.

The incident has forced the presidents of both schools to forfeit their appearances in post-season tournaments that could have generated more than $1 million (£515,000) for each.

Andrew Sorensen, president of South Carolina, said that allowing his school's team to play in a prestigious "bowl" game would have been "the rankest form of hypocrisy". He and Jim Barker, Clemson president, called the players' behaviour "deplorable."

But Clemson tailback Yusef Kelly, who was seen kicking a South Carolina player, told the Charleston, South Carolina Post and Courier : "If I hadn't done it to him, he would have done it to me - it was just us getting caught up in the moment."

Terry Don Phillips, Clemson's athletics director, said his 12-year-old stepson had seen nothing wrong with the unsportsmanlike conduct on the field. "And if he's saying that, how many other 12 and 13-year-old people out there are saying that?" he asked.

"We do have a responsibility to send the right message to young people," Mr Phillips added.

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