DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
Texas Southern imposed its own penalty on the women’s basketball team, withdrawing from the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament that begins Wednesday.
That move Monday night came hours before the conference handed out suspensions for 15 players involved in the bench-clearing fight between the Lady Tigers and Southern on Saturday night. It’s believed to be one of the biggest number of suspensions in NCAA women’s basketball history.
The conference announced later that seven players from Southern and eight from Texas Southern were suspended for their roles in the skirmish that resulted in the contest being ruled a double forfeit.
“After deliberate consultation and review with our conference office regarding the incident that transpired on March 7, 2015, we’ve come to the decision that our women’s basketball team will not participate in the upcoming 2015 SWAC Women’s Basketball Tournament, as we would not be able to successfully field a competitive team due to the number of suspensions,” Texas Southern Director of Athletics Dr. Charles McClelland said in release announcing the school’s decisiion.
“In addition to the multi-game suspensions handed down from our league office, we will also be imposing some additional measures to ensure that our student-athletes fully understand the severity of what took place on Saturday. With that being said, we’re not going to throw in the towel or give up on these young ladies.”
Texas Southern players Toni Cheadle, Dana Jones, Miracle Davis, Diamonisha Sophus, Morgan Simmons, Ashley Ferguson and Alexus Johnson were all given one game suspensions by the conference. Kiana Vines received a two-game suspension.
Southern’s Shaquandria Litmon, Jadea Brundidge, Jasmine Jefferson, Kendra Coleman, Corteni Purnell and Yasmine Nelson were all awarded a one-game penalty. Keonia Parrish was given two games. She was dismissed from the Jaguars team on Monday.
“After reviewing the video footage and conferring with our administration, our program made the decision to dismiss Keonia Parrish from the team based on her involvement in Saturday’s incident at Texas Southern,” coach Sandy Pugh said in a statement. “We would like to reiterate that any behavior of this nature is extreme and completely beyond the boundaries of tolerable. As a result, we felt that an immediate dismissal was warranted. We wish Keonia the best in her future endeavors.”
The Jaguars also suspended Kenidi Robinson for the remainder of the season. Southern will face No. 7 seed Grambling at noon on Wednesday.
Texas Southern was the top seed in the tournament. With the Lady Tigers withdrawing, the winner of the game between Alabama A&M and Mississippi Valley advances.
The incident occurred with 12:36 left in the game Saturday, with Southern leading 51-49. Davis had just drawn a charge underneath the basket for Texas Southern.
The officials ruled the game a double forfeit. Since the game lasted less than 30 minutes on the clock, NCAA rules don’t count the stats. Southern was awarded the victory because it was leading at the time.
With the two teams tied at 16-2 in the conference standings, Texas Southern was awarded the top seed in the tournament, by virtue of outscoring Southern in the two meetings.
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