By now the footage of the post-game brawl that marred a competitive game between New Mexico State and Utah Valley has made the rounds, with the incident masking the fact that the Wolverines took a step towards the WAC regular season title with a 66-61 overtime victory.
What got things going in the wrong direction was New Mexico State guard KC Ross-Miller throwing the basketball at Utah Valley’s Holton Hunsaker just after the final horn, leaving members of both teams scrambling to either defend their teammates or diffuse a potentially explosive situation. Add in the students rushing the floor to celebrate with the team and sure enough punches were thrown by Aggie players and even a couple Utah Valley fans.
Friday afternoon the WAC announced that Ross-Miller would be suspended two games and teammate Renaldo Dixon one due to their roles in the melee. Both players will miss Saturday’s game against Bakersfield, with Ross-Miller also suspended for the Aggies’ game against Grand Canyon on March 6.
“There obviously is no place in the Western Athletic Conference or intercollegiate athletics as a whole for the unfortunate events that took place at the conclusion of Thursday night’s game,” WAC commissioner Jeff Hurd said in a statement announcing the suspensions. “And I appreciate the excellent cooperation that I have received from both institutions in my review of what occurred.”
“While the suspensions handed down are appropriate for the actions of the involved student-athletes, there will be a continued review of other incidents that occurred as a result of fans rushing the court. There are obvious safety and security issues that need to be addressed, and I also have requested additional games management information from Utah Valley University.
“Finally, the situation could have been much worse if it had not been for outstanding effort of both the New Mexico State and Utah Valley coaching staffs. They were instrumental in separating their student-athletes from what could have been an even uglier situation.”
As for the fans, once again whether or not they should be allowed to rush the court is a topic of discussion. But instead of debating which programs should do it, the debate centers on fan/player safety and whether or not schools do enough to ensure no interactions between fans and visiting players. And in some circles, there’s a desire to see the NCAA ban court storming once and for all.