Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bethune-Cookman forfeits game to Hampton

Bethune-Cookman will forfeit Saturday's game against Hampton as part of its self-imposed punishment in the wake of Monday's in-game brawl between players from the Wildcats and Maryland-Eastern Shore.

The "victory" boosts Hampton's record to 20-6 and 12-1 in the MEAC with three regular-season games remaining. The Lady Pirates next game will be Monday against Florida A&M.

The MEAC levied one-game suspensions to nine players - five from Maryland-Eastern Shore and four from Bethune-Cookman - for Monday's brawl. Neither the conference nor the schools involved identified the players. The Wildcats accepted the ban and took additional measures, including suspending all players for one conference game..

"Actions like these come at a cost," Bethune-Cookman director of athletics Lynn W. Thompson said, "in this instance the high price of forfeiture of a game and the loss of an opportunity to compete will send a strong message that the privilege of being a Division I student-athlete at Bethune-Cookman University comes with the responsibility of sportsmanship, integrity and fair play at all times."

Added Wildcats coach Vanessa Blair: "As a team, we sincerely apologize to the MEAC, our university, student body, fans and community for the behavior that was displayed at Moore Gymnasium on February 14th. This incident does not reflect the values of our program. We are a Christian university and we stand on the shoulders of our remarkable founder; and for that we hold ourselves to a much higher standard. The additional sanctions that we placed on ourselves express that standard for which we all continue to strive."

We applaud Bethune-Cookman's stance, and we're sure their message is sincere. But let's face it, without three of their players - some or all possibly starters - the Wildcats were likely to get killed at conference-leading Hampton Saturday. So this "additional punishment" actually spares the Wildcats from playing a game they almost certainly wouldn't win - along with the expense of traveling to Hampton to play it. The school didn't identify what other measures it took in its self-punishment. Let's hope the other internal sanctions carry more sting.

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