The CIAA championship game between Winston-Salem and Virginia State was cancelled Friday after several Virginia State players assaulted the Winston-Salem quarterback in the bathroom during a joint team awards luncheon on the Winston-Salem campus.
“Their players jumped our starting quarterback, Rudy Johnson, and swelled up his eye and busted up his lip and some other things,” Winston-Salem coach Connell Maynor said. “And basically that’s what happened, and for the safety of the players and everybody else, they are canceling the game.”
Rudy Johnson, who is 9-0 as Winston-Salem’s starter, was hit in the face and head, and suffered a swollen eye and a laceration above his eye. He was taken to the hospital and released. Johnson identified Virginia State backup running back Lamont Britt as the player who struck him. Britt was arrested by Winston-Salem police and charged with assault and inflicting serious injury.
Britt was being held Friday night in the Forsyth County Jail with his bond set at $7,500. He has a preliminary court date for Dec. 9.
Nancy Young, a WSSU spokeswoman, said she attended Friday’s CIAA luncheon before the incident between Johnson and the Virginia State players. Both football teams sat on opposite sides of the room in the Anderson Center during the two-hour luncheon.
WSSU and VSU students, staff, and faculty members attended the luncheon in which football players received awards, according to the court records.
At some point, Johnson left the room to go to the restroom, Young said. That’s when he was confronted by five Virginia State players. Johnson identified Britt, a junior VSU football player, as the person who struck him, according to court records.
Afterward, Young saw both teams gathering in the rear of the banquet room, and their coaches had to separate the players, she said.
“No one expected anything like this to happen,” Young said.
The two teams are 9-1 and ranked in the AFCA’s Division II Top 25. The winner would have earned a berth in the Division II playoffs, though Winston-Salem is ranked No. 2 in the national rankings and would probably have earned a berth anyway.
CIAA officials also canceled the CIAA volleyball semifinals and final, which were scheduled for this weekend on the Winston-Salem campus.
Maynor said that while this incident makes the CIAA look bad, it also has far-reaching implications for the reputation of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“It’s very unfortunate that a young man (Britt) doesn’t realize what he’s done,” Maynor said. “He doesn’t realize the implications of what this does for football and the CIAA and for his university and our university…. It’s a sad, sad day for HBCUs.”
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