The fight that appeared to threaten LIU Brooklyn's bid to repeat as Northeast Conference champs may turn out to be less devastating than first expected.
NEC player of the year Julian Boyd and teammates Jamal Olaswere, Troy Joseph and C.J. Garner were each reinstated Monday after being suspended from school last month as a result of their role in a Sept. 15 brawl at an on-campus party.
All four players will be suspended for the first two conference games of the NEC season against Sacred Heart on Jan. 3 and Quinnipiac on Jan. 5. The university has also placed the four players on probation, which requires they participate in an anger management program, undergo counseling and perform community service.
That the two-game suspension occurs at the start of the league season rather than during non-conference play appears to be an attempt by the LIU administration to make the penalty at least somewhat meaningful. Boyd is the the team's best player and Olasewere and Garner were the Blackbirds' second and third leading scorers last season, so will be difficult for LIU Brooklyn to win either road game in their absence.
At the same time, a two-game suspension, however ill-timed, doesn't torpedo the Blackbirds' season the way a longer one could have. Even if they start 0-2 in NEC play, they'll still have a chance to contend with Wagner and Robert Morris for the league title and they'll still be at full strength during the conference tournament.
The incident that led to the suspension took place at a welcome-back party for students on the LIU Brooklyn campus. Nobody sustained serious injuries in the fight, but the four players were arraigned on assault charges and suspended from school prior to Monday's announcement.
Predictably, the four players were relieved by the school's decision.
Tweeted Olasewere, "God is good! Thank you!"