BOYDTON, Va. (WRIC) — A high school basketball team in Mecklenburg County, Va., had its entire season canceled by the school board.
A few players on Park View High School’s basketball team got in a fight at a tournament at Brunswick High School in December.
Four players from the team were suspended from school and are now facing criminal charges. Four other students not on the team were also suspended.
The school board voted and heard an appeal, but still decided to keep the suspension.
Supporters of the team say the kids were defending themselves and punishing the whole team is excessive.
“We want them to play because they deserve to play,” supporter Costella Crenshaw said.
Friends, family and alumni of Park View High School’s basketball team were shocked to learn that the Mecklenburg County School Board decided to suspend the teams entire season as punishment.
“I’m not condoning any kind of violence what so ever,” said alumni Robert Farrar. “If it did come to suspending them, [do it] for a couple of games or suspending them from school for several days — anything but to take the whole season.”
The teams coaching staff said they don’t agree with the punishment, and it’s hard because even boys who weren’t involved in the fight are being punished.
“We have boys that have worked so hard during the season. They go to school to get good grades just so they can play, and for them to take that away is very hurtful,” said Assistant Coach Tajayla Ratliff.
Team captain and senior Lamari House wasn’t involved in the fight and is now worried how this suspension will affect his future.
“I was waiting to go to the state championship,” Lamari House said. “I have a couple of schools looking at me, but I don’t know how that’s going to go without me playing.”
Mecklenburg County School Superintendent Paul Nichols saw video of the fight and said he wishes it never happened.
Nichols said he stands by the school board’s decision and said fighting and unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated on or off the court.
“In this case, it wasn’t on the court, but we still had our students in uniform so they were still representatives of our school division,” Paul Nichols said.
Nichols also said VHSL had been looking into its own form of punishment for the team since it happened at an athletic event. However, it has backed off since learning the school board’s decision.