The WPIAL last night placed penalties on the Jeannette and North Catholic basketball teams because of a fight after their PIAA playoff game Saturday. But the WPIAL decided against suspending any players for future games.
That means Jeannette will be at full strength for its PIAA Class AA semifinal game tonight.
The fight occurred Saturday at Hempfield after Jeannette defeated North Catholic, 86-60, in a PIAA quarterfinal. The WPIAL Board of Control had a two-hour hearing yesterday with coaches, players and administrators from both schools. The game officials and Hempfield school officials also testified.
After the hearing, the board placed the following penalties on both schools:
• Coaches and players from Jeannette and North Catholic must attend anger-management classes by the end of the school year, and the coach of each team must attend a coaching-education class.
• All athletic programs at both schools were placed on two years' probation. During that time, if any sports team is involved in a similar incident, that team will forfeit its rights to qualify for the playoffs.
• Coaches, principals and athletic administrators at both schools were publicly censured. The principal at each school must also develop a program to promote sportsmanship.
• Jeannette and North Catholic must give the WPIAL a plan on how athletic contests will be managed in order to ensure a similar incident won't happen again. Jeannette must submit its plan by today.
WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said testimony clearly showed words exchanged on the court in the game played a part in the fight.
"But the board did not feel what was presented [at the hearing] was severe enough or one-sided enough to take one of these teams out of the playoffs," O'Malley said.
North Catholic coach Dave Long had claimed Jeannette's players came at his team in a hallway. Jeannette star senior Terrelle Pryor said North Catholic's Joe Long, a junior and the son of the coach, called him a name in the handshake line after the game and also used a racial slur that contributed to the fight.
More than a dozen players from both teams attended the hearing. Fourteen Jeannette players attended, but not Pryor.
In a text message, Pryor said he didn't attend "because I'm not talking to the media. Everyone blames me."
Jeannette coach Jim Nesser said: "There is no question both teams are guilty of something. We're not saying it's all North Catholic's fault and we'll take our share of responsibility."
Mike White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1975. First Published March 12, 2008 4:00 AM