At least one student athlete was involved in a 30-person brawl outside Rogers Student Center on Oct. 29.
According to Campus Safety reports, “multiple black males were involved in multiple fights” the night of the Halloween Dance. The incident was so bad that the Campus Safety officers at the scene needed assistance from Tyler Police.
Campus Safety responded to the fight in the Apache Room 1-4 at about 11:30 p.m. Officers reported that a large number of students were engaged in multiple fights. Campus Safety tried to diffuse the situation by separating the students, and one student was removed and sent to his dorm.
However, the fights continued outside where a second fight was observed east of Claridge Hall involving the same student.
Yet another disturbance occurred in the Roger Student Center parking lot. Reports state that Campus Safety instructed everyone to go to their dorms.
“We had campus safety officers posted up in the Apache Rooms during the dance and they helped physically break up the fight. Then the students left to go outside to the parking lot,” said Campus Safety Chief Randy Melton. “Other fights broke out on the parking lot, which we had Tyler Police come help break it up, and we had one coach to come help.”
No arrests were made in any of the fights.
TJC sophomore wide receiver Teric Williams was the only suspect listed on a Campus Safety incident report. Just a few days after the fight, Williams returned an opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to help beat Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 31-7.
The incidents were referred by Campus Safety to the Vice President of Student Affairs.
“Even if they are athletes I don’t give them any special treatment because when they step into my office, I see and treat them as a student,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Austin Lane. “I do that in all fairness for every student.”
Lane said all students, even athletes, have to go through the same discipline procedure when an incident like a fight occurs.
“Even if there is a report written and it looks great, believe it or not we still have to give that student what is called ‘due process,'” Lane said. “So we have to follow our rules and regulations if we want to accuse an athlete or student of something. They have the right to be able to come in and respond to the allegation and defend themselves.”
Whatever formal action Student Affairs chooses to take, the coaches said this behavior will not be tolerated.
“If it ever involves an athlete, it will be dealt with and it will be dealt with seriously,” said football Head Coach Danny Palmer. “But all I can say is that if an athlete was involved in this, I’m embarrassed by it because we do take action.”
“Any kind of public or campus violence is not good, and we want to make sure that the campus is always safe regardless of any student being an athlete or normal student,” said football Assistant Coach Ryan Mahon.
Whether it was caused by athletes or other students, the punishment is the same.
According to the 2008-2009 Student Handbook under Actions Against Members of the College Community, conduct is prohibited which threatens or endangers the health of safety of self of others, including, but not limited to, acts such as physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, and/or coercion.
If a student athlete is found responsible, the penalty could range from probation to suspension or expulsion. In the case of a fight, the student could be suspended from the institution from one to two years.