TSSAA upholds 2-year postseason ban for Austin-East, Brainerd after basketball brawl

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WATE) - The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association at a special called meeting on Thursday voted to uphold disciplinary actions against the boys basketball teams Austin-East and Brainerd high schools after a brawl broke out at a game last month.

The TSSAA says in the minutes for the meeting that Austin-East has put in place 12 sportsmanship initiatives that they will be working on. The school will be allowed to appeal again "once significant progress has been made with these 12 initiates.

Previous storyAustin East, Brainerd basketball teams suspended after brawl

Brainerd's probation has also been upheld. They too will be allowed to appeal again once their sportsmanship initiatives are put in place and progress is made.

Both schools were placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of this season as well as the 2018-19 school year. This bans them from postseason play for both seasons, but allows them to play in the regular season.

They will also be on probation for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Each school was fined a total of $3,500.

In the game between Austin-East and Brainerd on January 20, two players went to the floor in front of the Austin East bench battling for a loose ball when, according to officials, the Austin-East player, a junior, hit the Brainerd player, a senior, with the ball. The Brainerd player then punched the Austin East player while the two were still on the floor.

At that point, officials say the benches emptied and fights broke out across the gym between both players and fans. A player from Brainerd High School was injured and taken to the hospital. The game was suspended with Austin-East ahead 36-32. 

Austin-East Principal Nathan Langlois issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying they've already begun taking steps to prevent another similar occurrence and plan to appeal again in June with the hopes of regaining postseason play next season.

We regret the situation that occurred during our game with Brainerd, and we have already begun taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again as this does not reflect the true character of our school and our community. We have spoken to our players, their families and members of our community, and we appreciate the support we have received to move forward and restore confidence. 

While we accept responsibility for our actions, we did appeal the two-year restrictive probation for our boys’ basketball program, asking TSSAA to consider reducing the restrictive probation to one year. We have been notified TSSAA upheld their ruling; however, they are willing to review our request again in June.

We are very optimistic about the opportunity to regain next season’s postseason when we return before TSSAA with evidence of our progress. As principal, I feel good about the door still being open for reconsideration. It comes down to our players and our community demonstrating good sportsmanship at all times and doing what we say we are going to do. I’m confident about getting a second chance.

We appreciate TSSAA taking the time to hear our appeal and look forward to our meeting in June.

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