Winston Salem State University (WSSU) was set to play in a championship game tomorrow for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), but after an assault on their starting quarterback, the game is now canceled. The quarterback, Rudy Johnson, was beaten in a bathroom at the Anderson Center on the WSSU campus during a luncheon for the two teams slated to play for the championship the next day. A player for Winston Salem’s rival, Virginia State, has admitted his participation in the fight and faces a charge of assault. University Law Enforcement is now working to identify any other players who took part in the brutal attack on WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson.
The Virginia State player named as a suspect is Lamont Daniel Britt. The 22-year-old junior running back is currently being detained in the Forsyth County Jail to face charges of misdemeanor assault with serious injury. Bond has been set at $7500.00. The warrant for his arrest describes the attack as Britt hitting Johnson in the face and head, resulting in a swollen eye and a cut above the eye. There is no information regarding whether or not Johnson has retained a lawyer.
Although members of both teams participated in the fight that led to the championship game being canceled, the Chancellor of Winston Salem State University, Donald Reaves, blames the players from Virginia State. “We don’t know a lot of what happened but we do know our starting quarterback, Rudy Johnson, was beaten up,” said Reaves. “And he didn’t beat himself up.” Johnson’s starting record this year was 9-0.
Five Virginia State players are reported to have taken part in the fight. According to another member of Winston Salem State University’s football squad, “Rudy was beaten up bad and he can’t play.” He was treated at a local hospital and discharged. Britt took part in all 10 Virginia State games this season, rushing for 276 yards. He will make an appearance in district court on December 9.
Regarding the decision to cancel the championship game between Winston Salem State University and Virginia State, the Commissioner of the CIAA, Jacqie Carpenter, stated,”We did not make this decision lightly, as its impact is far and wide. On the eve of such an important weekend for dozens of our student athletes, many of whom have waited a lifetime for such a moment, we are left to focus instead on what might have been.” In addition to the football game, a conference championship for the volleyball team at Winston Salem was also canceled.
Having the championship game canceled is a bitter disappointment to Winston Salem State University and Virginia State and could negatively affect the chances of Virginia State to secure a playoff spot in the NCAA tournament. Currently in the sixth spot in the Super One Region, they could be knocked out of the bracket by teams who are playing on Saturday. Winston Salem State appears to have clinched their spot in the NCAA playoffs with a number two seed in the region. Both teams’ records at the end of the year was 9-1. The luncheon was being held to celebrate the teams’ success and congratulate the players. Sadly, due to the actions of some, neither team will be able to participate in what every young athlete dreams of – a championship game.
By Jennifer Pfalz