Fallout From Miami, FIU Reverberates

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 8:57 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Of all the disturbing images from the sideline-clearing brawl between Miami and Florida International, swift and stern punishment was handed out Monday for the three that stood out the most:

_ Miami's Anthony Reddick wielding his helmet as a weapon and smashing it into an FIU player. His one-game suspension was increased to an indefinite one.

_ FIU's Chris Smith wrestling Miami holder Matt Perrelli down and appearing to punch him in the chin. Smith was dismissed.

_ Marshall McDuffie Jr., Smith's Golden Panthers teammate, then kicking Perrelli in the head. McDuffie was also thrown off the team.

FIU's new sanctions also included 16 other players _ each was originally handed a one-game suspension. Now they've been given an indefinite break from the game.

``This is certainly embarrassing. It's disgraceful. It's amazing. I've run out of words,'' FIU coach Don Strock said. ``There's no place for it in college football or football period. This is way overboard. I apologize to all the fans of college football for this taking place.''

The two dismissed players will remain on scholarship at FIU.

Officials from Miami, FIU and the Atlantic Coast and Sun Belt conferences issued 31 one-game suspensions _ to 13 Hurricanes and 18 Golden Panthers _ late Sunday, while both schools warned further punishment was possible.

Miami athletic director Paul Dee and ACC commissioner John Swofford decided Monday that Reddick _ who charged across the field within the first 30 seconds of the fight starting and swung his helmet wildly at FIU players, striking at least one _ merited more than the one-game suspension.

``Additional measures were needed,'' Swofford said.

FIU said its suspended players all would have to complete 10 hours of anger management counseling and 50 hours of community service, plus would be on athletic probation for the remainder of the year.

Further, all FIU players and coaches will need to complete community service projects.

``This is something that's not going to be tolerated,'' FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said. ``We've got to use this as an example to the young kids in South Florida and all over. They need to know that yes, football is very competitive. Our society is very competitive. But we've got to make sure that we teach the youth in South Florida what's acceptable behavior and what's not.''

Smith and McDuffie both took shots at Perrelli shortly after the fight began with 9 minutes left in the third quarter Saturday night.

``For us,'' Garcia said, ``one incident is one incident too many.''

Miami said it would order its suspended players to complete community service as well.

Dee added that the university's athletic department ``re-emphasized'' the importance of sportsmanship to coach Larry Coker and members of his staff. The brawl was the third on-field incident in Miami's past seven games; the Hurricanes also fought with LSU after losing last season's Peach Bowl and trampled Louisville's midfield Cardinals logo before playing there last month, an act viewed as taunting.

``The coaches will be held accountable for any violation of this principle,'' Dee said.

Coker was not available for comment Monday. He is scheduled to hold his regular weekly news conference Tuesday.

The ACC and Miami (4-2) suspended Reddick, Carlos Armour, Chris Barney, James Bryant, Tyrone Byrd, DajLeon Farr, Ryan Hill, Bruce Johnson, Charlie Jones, Brandon Meriweather, Brian Monroe, Derrick Morse and Randy Phillips.

All will miss Saturday's game at winless Duke.

``Miami has quality depth at every position,'' Duke coach Ted Roof said. ``It's not like they're going to fall off the side of the mountain.''

In addition to McDuffie and Chris Smith, the Sun Belt and FIU (0-7) suspended Michael Alls, Scott Bryant, Roland Clark, Michael Dominquez, John Ellis, Cory Fleming, Reginald Jones, Robert Mitchell, Quintin Newman, Luis Pena, Jarvis Penerton, Julian Reams, Lionell Singleton, Samuel Smith, Mannie Wellington and Chandler Williams.

They'll miss FIU's next game Oct. 28 at Alabama _ at least.

``We're going to go about business as usual,'' Strock said. ``I've been around the game a long time. It's an embarrassing moment for me as the head coach and it's something we'll certainly rectify.''

And Monday's fallout wasn't limited to on-field actions, either.

Former Miami player Lamar Thomas lost his TV analyst job with Comcast Sports SouthEast Monday over comments he made during the brawl.

CSS will also edit out Thomas' comments before replaying the game later this week.

``You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked,'' Thomas said during the fight. ``You don't come into the OB playing that stuff. You're across the ocean over there. You're across the city. You can't come over to our place talking noise like that. You'll get your butt beat.''

Said CSS general manager Mark Fuhrman: ``We were disappointed in the incident that happened on the field and regret the way it was handled in the broadcast booth.''

The NCAA, in a statement released Monday, called the fight ``wholly unacceptable'' and said it hoped the added sanctions taken by Miami and FIU shows ``that such behavior is not tolerated.''