Two Nevada Las Vegas players received suspensions from Big West Commissioner Jim Haney Friday night for their roles in the brawl that occurred at the end of the Rebels' victory over Utah State Thursday at Las Vegas.
Reserve center Chris Jeter, who instigated the melee, was suspended for three games, starting with UNLV's nationally televised game against North Carolina State today. Jeter also must sit out UNLV's game against San Jose State Monday and the March 1 game at Utah State. Forward Moses Scurry, who struck Utah State Coach Kohn Smith during the scuffle, will be forced to miss the game at Utah State.
Scurry was sitting out Thursday's game as part of NCAA-imposed sanctions against nine UNLV players who did not immediately pay for incidental expenses at hotels during trips last season.
Haney also placed Jeter, Scurry and five other UNLV players--Stacey Augmon, David Butler, Anderson Hunt, Larry Johnson and James Jones--on probation as well as Utah State players Allen Gordon, Randy Funk and Kendall Youngblood.
UNLV officials suspended Jeter for three consecutive games early Friday and placed Scurry on probation pending further review of the matter. However, Haney said he changed the penalties because he felt it was important that both players be held out when UNLV plays at Utah State March 1. "It just seemed to me that having those particular players on the floor in Utah would add fuel to the fire," he said.
The fight--the third such incident leading to sanctions against players in college basketball this year--started with seven seconds left in a game won by UNLV, 124-90.
Jeter delivered a football-style head butt to Utah State guard Gary Patterson's head. The blow, which occurred away from the ball, left Patterson on the floor for several minutes, and the game was stopped briefly.
The final seven seconds were played without incident, but immediately after the game, Jeter punched another Utah State player, Youngblood, in the face .
Jeter's punch touched off a brawl at the base of the tunnel leading to the dressing rooms in the Thomas and Mack Center. Several players exchanged blows, and Smith was hit at least twice as he tried to restore order. Videotape made by the production company that handled the telecast of the game shows Scurry, wearing street clothes, striking a glancing blow to Smith's cheek during the melee.
According to Smith, Patterson needed "about 12 stitches" to close a gash on his forehead, and Youngblood needed seven stitches to close a cut under his left eye. Smith said Patterson is "questionable" for tonight's game at Cal State Fullerton.
The UNLV-Utah State rivalry took on an added edge a year ago when Smith, in his first season as a head coach, was quoted in the Denver Post as saying: "Just because UNLV makes a lot of money for our conference, it doesn't make it right for them to break rules. And how do their players afford these new cars, alligator shoes and nice stereo stuff on a summer job that pays $4.50 an hour?"