Virginia State University held a press conference this morning on the campus to address the media, alumni and fans about the events that took place over the weekend in Winston-Salem, NC, which led to the arrest of a VSU football player and the cancellation of the CIAA Championship Game. VSU President, Dr. Keith T. Miller assured the VSU family that they are deeply concerned about the incident and are not only cooperating with Winston-Salem officials, but they are launching their own investigation as well. Athletic Director Peggy Davis informed the public that the decision to play the Championship on WSSU’s campus as well as the decision to cancel the game and shut down the Trojans’ season were all decisions made by the CIAA, and were out of the University’s control.
Many in attendance voiced their displeasure over the fact that the entire team was punished based on the actions of one player, a move many see as biased in some way, as well as unprecedented. Many would argue that there is a fight on every college campus in America once or twice a week, but to have a team accomplish so much and have the rug pulled from under them based on one bad decision by one individual is new territory. Certainly Dr. Miller and Ms. Davis were contrite and in no way condoned the actions or reactions of the player, Lamont Britt, who was arrested and charged in with the assault of the WSSU QB Rudy Johnson during a CIAA Luncheon event on Friday. They also apologized to the Winston-Salem State community, the Rams football team, and to the young man who was injured, but led all present to believe that there is much we do not know that perhaps they do.
Head Coach Latrell Scott also spoke to the media, highlighting the positives about his football team and the 54 young men who represent him on and off the field in an extraordinary way. He spoke of the team’s total GPA, their graduation success, and their community outreach efforts which are the type of positive stories that never seem to draw the interest of the media. Coach Scott has probably been the biggest victim besides Mr. Johnson and Mr. Britt, having seen his team reach new heights under his watch, winning CIAA Coach of the Year, and taking his team to the Championship Game, all to see it unfold in such a bizarre way. It was unfortunate that this incident occurred on the weekend while people were in transition, preparing to travel or en route to the venue, which is why it’s taken a couple of days for the VSU Brass to assess the situation and make a public statement. While the press conference was much needed, it provided few answers to the key questions on the minds of the alumni, fans and concerned parents of student-athletes. Of course, VSU does not want to contaminate the investigation by commenting on pertinent details. Hopefully the passionate people in attendance will realize this.
With that being said, the university cannot make inflammatory accusations, use hear-say as evidence, or get into an “us against them” scenario when there is obviously so much at stake here, not to mention the University’s reputation as well as that of these innocent kids on the team who saw their dream snatched from them. Sure they’re a great bunch of kids but who wants to hear about young black men doing GOOD things? That doesn’t sell papers. But, arrest one of us, NOW we got a story. One VSU alum called out a local newspaper because the Trojans were marching toward a championship with national rankings and could not get on the front page of that “local” paper until this incident came about. To sum up today’s press conference, there appears to be more here than meets the eye, and we can only hope the investigation will be fair and objective, so this University and these young men can remove this stain that has been placed on them in the public domain.