COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — A brawl that cleared the East Mississippi Community College bench when it was ahead 48-0 has also barred the school from this year’s community and junior college state playoffs.
Jim Southward, commissioner of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges, confirmed the postseason ban Friday, The Commercial Dispatch reported.
The brawl erupted shortly before halftime of Thursday’s game between East Mississippi and Mississippi Delta Community College. Each player who left the bench area was suspended for two games — and so many players left East Mississippi’s bench that it cannot field a playoff team, Southward said.
Itawamba, which did not make last year’s playoffs, replaced East Mississippi and will open the playoffs Saturday at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. In the other semifinal, Northwest Mississippi Community College will host East Central Community College.
“We are currently considering all our options for appealing this decision,” East Mississippi President Thomas M. Huebner Jr. said in a news release.
East Mississippi won the last two National Junior College Athletic Association national championships.
Since Thursday’s game was the season’s last for Delta, returning players will sit out next year’s first two games, with returning East Mississippi players out of the season opener.
About 10 minutes of fighting broke out on the Delta sidelines after a legal tackle of an East Mississippi player was followed with more physical contact.
The East Mississippi bench emptied. The field was covered with a series of skirmishes in which players threw punches at each other, at coaches, and at officials. Law enforcement and game administrators restored order.