By Chad Nance
On Monday afternoon Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Donald Reeves held a press conference on the WSSU campus in order to elaborate on what took place there Friday and to allow WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson to explain his version of events that took place during the CIAA banquet when Johnson was assaulted in the bathroom by as many as five or six players from Virginia State University.
According to Mr. Johnson he was in the bathroom at the banquet when he was asked by a VSU player if he was the Rams QB. Johnson confirmed that he was. The VSU players immediately began talking smack and Johnson says he simply replied, “We’ll just see on the field.”
It was then that Johnson was tapped on the shoulder. As he was turning he was hit by VSU player. When Johnson squared up with the first assailant another VSU player hit him in his blind-side knocking him to the ground. Once he was on the ground Johnson said he was kicked by as many as six players. It was hard for him to tell who hit him or who they were beyond the player charged, Darnell Britt, 22, of Portsmouth, Va.
Another WSSU player heard the altercation and came to Johnson’s defense at which point the VSU players scattered and ran for the exits.
According to Chancellor Reeves VSU head football coach, Latrell Scott, was acting enraged and “worse than his players”. When Reeves asked Scott for contact information for VSU President Keith Miller, Scottbecame belligerent. Confirming what other sources told CCD, Reeves said that whenScott was confronted by WSSU chief of police Pat Norris he became even more enraged. At that point Chancellor Reeves to chief Norris that if Scott didn’t calm down she was to arrest him.
Chancellor Reeves pointed out that the VSU team was at the tournament without any supervision beyond coach Scott and his staff. Layla Garms from the Winston-Salem Chronicle asked Chancellor Reeves if he was aware that there had recently been a great deal of crime and violence on the VSU campus and that Coach Scott, himself, had a criminal record.
Chancellor Reeves said that he had heard about that and indicated that it is questionable that someone of “that character” be left in charge of 55 young men. Scott’s criminal record aside it is true that there have been serious issues with crime on the VSU campus. Not the kind of crimes one normally sees on a campus such as underage drinking and noise violations.
On a 60 Day Criminal Incident Information log obtained by CCD (dates range from Sept. 8th 2013 to November 8th 2013) there are 23 incidents of larceny, 10 assaults, 2 verbal threats, 1 robbery, 4 drug violations, 1 forcible sex offense, and 1 kidnapping. By comparison Virginia Commonwealth University located in downtown Richmond, VA (30 minutes drive from VSU) has only had a total of 31 assaults in the last 11 months. Incidents and violence seem to be commonplace on the VSU campus including the conviction of former VSU student Khaliq Oliver in a Chesterfield , VA courtroom for conspiring with another VSU student, Ryan Simms, to murder a pot dealer of an ounce of weed near the VSU campus in April of 2012.
The WSSU Chancellor has asked for a full investigation into the incident by the CIAA and has asked that VSU forfeit the game. According to Chancellor Reeves when he asked Miller on Saturday to forfeit the game the VSU President refused to do so. Saturday, following a conference call with CIAA officials, the conference body ruled Virginia State as ineligible for the entire 2013 postseason.
At another press conference held at VSU by Miller and VSU Athletic Director Peggy Davis, VSU took a more belligerent stance. That press conference was not only attended by the press, but by parents of students. One parent asked, apparently unaware that the CIAA is an independent organization and NOT the American legal system, “Under our system of jurisprudence, a person is innocent until proven guilty. How many people are there on a football team? Why did the whole football team have to be penalized for the actions of one person?”
“That’s a great question, of which I don’t have the answer to,” President Miller replied. “I think the CIAA needs to answer that question. We’re as frustrated as anyone. We’re as dismayed as anyone.” Miller promised a full investigation by VSU into the assault on Rudy Johnson.
For his part Johnson reported that he practiced on Monday and will be playing against Slippery Rock University in round one of the NCAA DII Playoffs.
In the end this is not about the pitiful and violent behavior of a few punks. This incident is about a young man, his team mates, the dreams of Winston-Salem State’s students, and the city that loves them all. We can take heart in the disciplined and classy way that Rudy Johnson has purported himself throughout a very ugly situation that would have many of us raging and calling for blood. Winston-Salem State may be dealing with the fall out and the economic damage done by the actions of the Virginia State Football team… but in the end Rudy Johnson’s behavior shows that WSSU has proven itself as a place where young men and women are being groomed to be men and women we can be proud of. And we are, y’all. Yes we are.
Please check back to CCD for more on this story as it develops…
VSU Criminal Incident Report Log