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Jeannette avoids suspensions after fight

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Jeannette and North Catholic basketball programs and school officials were penalized Tuesday by the WPIAL Board of Control for the fight following their PIAA Class AA quarterfinal game Saturday at Hempfield.

No players were suspended, however, which will allow Jeannette to have all of its players available for the semifinal game tonight against North East at Sharon.

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said both programs were found to be equally at fault following a four-hour hearing attended by 14 of the 19 members of the Board of Control and administrators, attorneys, coaches and players from both schools and Hempfield officials.

Jeannette senior Terrelle Pryor, who was restrained by a security official during the fight, and Shaw Sunder were the only Jeannette players who did not attend.

"The board did not feel what was presented was severe enough or one-sided enough to take one of these teams out of the playoffs," he said.

He said the two schools were found to have behaved in an "unacceptable, unsportsmanlike and detrimental manner as it is relative to interscholastic athletics in Western Pennsylvania."

"The findings will not include any suspensions and will not impede in any way the Jeannette basketball team's participation today," O'Malley said. "There will be some conditions placed upon them of expected behavior immediately and they will have to be submitted to our office today."

The penalties include:

• Both athletic programs have been placed on probation for two years. If a similar incident occurs in that time, the team will not be allowed to participate in the playoffs.

• The principals of both schools were censured for their failure to adhere to their own code of conduct as it relates to an athlete's behavior at an interscholastic event. Coaches Jim Nesser of Jeannette and Dave Long of North Catholic were censured for their inability to effectively control their student-athletes following the conclusion of the game.

• The athletic administrations at both schools also were censured for their failure to intervene in a positive way, O'Malley said.

• Both schools' players and coaches will be required to complete anger-management conflict resolution classes. Results of the classes must be submitted to the board.

• The coaches must complete the American Sport Education Program's coaching education class.

• The schools' principals must develop a sportsmanship program.

• Both schools must submit to the WPIAL procedure guidelines to control student-athletes at games, specifically basketball. Jeannette must submit its report today.

Jeannette principal Stu Albaugh and North Catholic principal Lou Lazzaro did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

The Jeannette team heard the news at practice.

"I'm glad it's behind us," Nesser said. "It was an unfortunate situation, and I hope they (Jeannette's players) learned from it. I'm glad for the players."

After Jeannette defeated North Catholic, 86-60, players from both teams were involved in an altercation outside the locker rooms, which are located downstairs from the gymnasium.

"We were able to establish that there was something that took place on the court in a negative way that our board felt fueled what took place down stairs in a physical way," O'Malley said.

"What was established in testimony, the physical confrontation that took place was participated by both schools and we weren't able to establish who and who wasn't involved. We were able to establish that there was a physical confrontation, and everyone in the room was of the opinion it should not have happened and it was unacceptable."

He added: "There was an assertion made of a racial slur, but we couldn't substantiate it as fact."

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