Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox handed down sanctions Tuesday to the South Side and Indianapolis Tech football programs in the aftermath of a fight during their game Friday.
Cox met with school officials late in the afternoon at the IHSAA office in Indianapolis to discuss the game, which included a fight between players and coaches from both teams that stopped the game with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter and Tech leading South Side 24-6.
The sanctions include:
•Both head coaches, South Side's Eddie Fields and Tech's Emil Ekiyor, are suspended for one game.
•Assistant coaches Dan Muchler of South Side and Angelo Muhammad of Tech are suspended for the remainder of the season.
•A number of unnamed players for both teams are suspended for one game.
•Both schools are on probation through the 2014 season.
•Cox recommended the outcome of the game should be a double forfeit.
Television footage showed a Tech player being tackled in bounds by a South Side player but then tackled to the ground well out of bounds, drawing a penalty but also setting off a brief, but intense, skirmish between the teams. Players and coaches are seen in the footage fighting on the field. Penalty flags were thrown, fans came on the field, law enforcement officers were brought in, and the decision was made to stop the game.
"It was a hard play out of bounds that escalated to an event it shouldn't have," Cox told Indianapolis media after the meeting. "I can't condone it, but you know how (teenage) kids play with emotion and coaches coach with passion? Events like this occur, and we have to deal with them swiftly.
"We need to move forward from the incident," Cox said. "It is an unfortunate situation that occurs when emotions run high. You can blame anybody you like, but that's not the issue. Placing blame doesn't solve anything to do with sportsmanship."
Fields and South Side Athletic Director Tim Burton were unavailable for comment. Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Tuesday night in an email: "No comment tonight. We should have something tomorrow."
According to an IHSAA release, probation is official notice that serious violations have occurred, are a matter of record and future, similar incidents will not be tolerated. In addition, all members of both coaching staffs shall complete a National Federation of High Schools sportsmanship course and the NFHS teaching and modeling behavior course before the beginning of the state tournament to maintain their eligibility to coach in the tournament. Also, all players at the game will complete the NFHS sportsmanship course to maintain their eligibility.
Both schools will need to provide certification of completion of these courses to the IHSAA before Oct. 25. As part of their probation, the IHSAA will have a designee present at the remaining varsity football contests of both schools to observe the behaviors and demeanor of coaches and student-athletes.
Players identified by each school are suspended for one game for their roles in the incident. The suspensions may be spread over the remaining three regular season games.
Cox said the suspensions of the head coaches were because of a lack of education before the season on playing under control.
Cox also said that South Side will have a meeting Thursday with parents of the football players to discuss the issue and how behavior will be handled moving forward.
Fields is 9-18 in his third season as coach of the Archers.
It is the second time in four years that a FWCS football team has been placed on probation because of conduct during a game. In 2010, the Wayne football team was placed on probation for six weeks of the 2011 season after an emotional outburst in disagreement with a game official's call during a sectional loss to Delta that resulted in the ejection of multiple players and coaches.