Thursday, November 13, 2008

FSU Players, Fraternity Brothers, Brawl in Student Union

Details on this incident are sketchy, but slowly coming in. The most solid information so far has come from Andrew Carter at the Chopping Block Blog, who has interviewed FSU police Major James Russell:
“Today at about 12:37 p.m. today down at the student union where we have our market Wednesdays, kind of a flea market type atmosphere, the FSU PD reported to a large fight occurring in front of the Moore Auditorium, which is in there in the union. So far, we have determined that alleged persons are some members of the football team and members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. . . .

It involved a large crowd, an undetermined amount of people at this point because we’re still, again, sorting through and seeing who was involved there. We know that there were four people injured – not releasing the types of injuries at this point but we understand at this point that there were two males and two females students injured down there. . . .

Q: Just going to throw this out there – I was told by a witness that one player might have hit an individual with a chair.
JR: We have information that a chair was thrown. . . .

Q: Do you know if the folks were injured were taken to the hospital:
JR: I know that they were at least treated at [student health center]. And that’s all I’m going to release right now as far as the injuries. I’m not saying that they did or did not get taken to the hospital. . . .

Q: Have you heard any motive for this fight?
JR: We’re trying to sort through that right now. Apparently they had a reason to fight – they didn’t just start slugging it out for no reason. We’re going to try to find out where did all this begin.
Shakier information has been disseminated on many blogs and message boards associated with Florida State athletics. Some place the blame on the players, such as this comment at Chopping Block:
The football players were the instigators of the brawl. They were reacting to an incident that took place last week off campus. The frats are in the student EVERY Wednesday. You probably see only a handful of football players. They assaulted four frat boys, sent one young lady to the health center for stitches and another one to the hospital with a broken nose. The latter was hit in the face with a chair. Can you actually believe that four frat boys would take on about 8 football players in the middle of the afternoon on campus? I'm not surprised the media is already siding with the football players.
And here, at Scalpem:
the fsu football players started the altercation-they jumped a sigma last week at a club[one of the smallest members in a chapter of about 30]-probably over a female. they took it upon themselves to come in the union looking for more trouble to start. i have been at fsu for 2years and i rarely see one football player, much less a group of them in the union on wednesdays-its a place where the greeks always go to step and stroll. in the ruckus they ended seriously injuring 2females, one of which is a sorority sister who ended up with her nose broken and needing surgery while the other one required stitches. if the football players were the ones in defense then why were they all well enough to attend practice?
Naturally, there is a different version of the events:

Last night at a Tallahassee night club, a player was getting friendly with the girl friend of a member of Phi Beta Sigma, an African-American fraternity founded in 1914.

In response, a frat member supposedly "jumped" an FSU player today at the student union. Other players came to his defense and things escalated from there.

Even more inside knowledge, and a version of events even more favorable to the players is claimed here:
Several of Florida State's top receivers were involved in a fight on campus around lunchtime on Wednesday at the student union, but sources with knowledge of the scuffle indicate the players involved were defending a teammate who was sucker-punched by an unidentified student.

An FSU official has confirmed to that redshirt freshman receiver Taiwan Easterling was punched by an unknown assailant in the FSU student union by a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and that Easterling had been harassed and threatened by fraternity members for the last few days. . . .

According to an FSU team source [In other words, a player?], after Easterling was punched, he fought back as several FSU football players, including fellow receivers Bert Reed, Greg Carr and Corey Surrency, rushed to his defense.

Was the sucker punch thrown in the opposite direction? Yes, according to a comment at Tomahawk Nation:

Did the sucker punch happen? Yea, but it was the football player hitting the frat guy.

The crazy thing with the stories being report is how it sounds:

1 frat guy (about 5’10, 165lbs) walked up to a football player with a bunch of his football teammates and sucker punches him.
And someone claiming to be one of the two women injured has chimed in as well:
Greetings all I see that every one has an opinon on the issue and being that I was one of the females mentioned I figured that I would post. The altercation was in fact instigated by the FSU football players and there was a union full of witnesses who saw and lots who are making reports sorry to say that the team members where in the wrong in this instance. I think its sad because the other young lady that was assaulted had to go the emergency room and will now need surgery for the damage that they caused. I understand alot of you love the football team but these young men deservemore than inside punishment they have committed a crime and physically hurt a young woman, and they deserved to be punished
As a professional historian, it is always quite interesting to watch the rumor mill churn when there is a contested version of events. This, however, sums things up:

I’ve had it with this kind of garbage, period. Regardless of what comes from the situation, suspensions, dismissal or nothing, FSU football players need to take a line from Top Gun…

“You need to be doing it better and cleaner than the other guy.”

Right now, FSU has a mighty FAIL when it comes to that topic. It’s been a month since FSU got through a week without an incident. Why? Because these “kids” can’t control their emotions or fists? Because someone “dissed” someone else, or someone checked out someone else’s girlfriend.
Update (1) 12:53 PM

If laughing about this is more your thing, do not miss the following post at EDSBS:

FSU Assault Nearly Becomes International Incident


Update (2) 3:07 PM

FSUncensored, who would not make a bad historian, notes at Tomahawk Nation:
From a lot of members associated with the Fraternity in question. I am concerned that they are all repeating the exact same story, and I am curious if they were told to by leadership to echo those same lines. While the football team isn't talking, friends of Phi Beta Sigma certainly are, and they are saying that the 'Nole players started this and went to the Union with a purpose. Keep that in mind when reading reports. I am not saying that their accounts are incorrect or fabricated, but since they are the only voice trolling message boards with an actual first hand interest in the outcome, we need to view their accounts with a cautious eye. It is not as if the football players are out there openly giving their side of the story (which would be wildly different).
Update (3) 12:21 AM Nov. 14
Some eyewitnesses are now going on record, and it does not look good for the football players:

"All of a sudden I see like a couple of fraternity boys come down to the middle and then this guy just punched him out of no where," said Valerie Crisostomo, an eyewitness.

"The first punch was thrown by a football player, to one of the members in the fraternity of Phi Beta Sigma. And from then on it was just chaos, it was like football players everywhere," said Ranae Arnette, an eyewitness.

Eyewitnesses say four students were injured in the melee. The general feeling on campus is not one of surprise just disappointment. . . .

"It was dumb. It's not very mature to be fighting. I mean you're in college, come on now. And I mean obviously the football players aren't taking their best interests in because what if they would have gotten hurt? Plus we have a game we need to win this weekend against Boston College. It's just a bad decision on everybody's part," said Stefond Johnson, an eyewitness.

No arrests have been made, but Major Jim Russell with the FSU Police Department says the investigation is ongoing, and the possibility of arrests is "not off the table."

Eyewitnesses say the football players were wearing team apparel, which made them easy to pick out.

Update (5): 12:37 AM Nov. 14

More allegations from another anonymous source, quoted at I Bleed Garnet and Gold:

Someone got stabbed in the face with a pencil. A girl trying to split up the fight got punched in the face and another girl was hit in the face with a chair because a Sigma threw a chair at Surrency and he ducked. When the police split it up, the football players ran so it was only the Sigmas who told their side of the story.

The two girls were taken to the hospital and it’s all on camera. I know Surrency, Reed, and Easterling were involved. Easterling started {the fights} both times. Greg Carr was helping split it up.

Update (6) 8:01 AM Nov. 14

Nothing much new this morning, with the exception of some comments on the continuing investigation:

Florida State police met with players on the Seminoles football team and members of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity Thursday in the aftermath of a midday brawl on campus Wednesday that reportedly involved both sides.

Also in attendance were the dean of student affairs and staff from the Office of Greek Life, said FSUPD spokesman Maj. Jim Russell,

"It's our responsibility to kind of guide them — to do the adult thing, do the right thing to ensure this doesn't happen again," he said. "This behavior will not be tolerated at Florida State University." . . .

With the FSUPD investigation continuing, Bobby Bowden had little to say about the matter following Thursday's practice.

He said if he does not receive the crime report before Saturday's night game against Boston College, he doesn't know what he'll do about involved players participating in the game.

"I'd probably have to talk to our athletic director, president," he said.

Bowden would not divulge what his players had said about the incident.

"I couldn't get into that," he said. "Like everything, it has two sides."

Go ahead Bobby. Sit on your hands. And watch your legacy get trashed.

Update (7) 3:02 PM Nov. 14

Bobby Bowden has suspended five players for Saturday's game with Boston College:

“The police report has not been concluded but from the information that I have gathered, I am suspending five players who were apparently involved in the fray. Taiwan Easterling, Bert Reed, Corey Surrency, Cameron Wade and Richard Goodman will all be suspended for the Boston College game.”

This is very nearly a clean wipe out of his receiving corps.

Update (8) 12:32 PM Nov. 15

More Bowden:

"You’re dealing with 17, 18, 19, 20 year olds. Some of them use poor, terribly poor judgment at times when you have to discipline (for) it...It's a black eye. But gee whiz, you name me a school that doesn't have a black eye somewhere down the line. None of us like it. But life is made up of disappointments. It's how you respond to them is what decides whether you are successful or not. So we'll respond to this thing in a positive way and we'll end up making it work in our favor."

To paraphrase: "Its just a bunch of kids with poor judgment, everyone else has these sorts of problems, and it will all work for the best." Perhaps its time to remove those rose-colored contacts Bobby.

Update (9) 1:58 PM Nov. 16

More Bowden, from the Chopping Block Blog:

Bowden said he’s hoping all five of his receivers will be back this week against Maryland, but that he’ll have to wait to see the report. After the game last night, Bowden said, “I felt like they shouldn’t have been over there but if they hadn’t been one of our boys might have gotten killed.”

He was asked about that comment this morning, and he said the primary reason why he suspended players was because they were at the student union in the first place, when they likely knew that something bad was going down. Bowden said some of the suspended guys came into his office and cried when they received word that they wouldn’t be able to play.

“The fact that they went over there,” Bowden said was reason enough to suspend the players.

Bowden said he wished he could opine about the fight, but that it’d probably be best that he say nothing. Reading between the lines, though, you could easily get the sense that Bowden believes his players were not the instigators of the melee. Again, Bowden didn’t say that. He wouldn’t say that.

He did say this: “To me, it makes a lot of difference in who attacked who.” . . .

One last thing about the fight: Bowden acknowledged that tensions had been building for a while between the involved parties. He said he hoped the police knew the history. He stopped himself from saying more, but suggested that he might spill the beans if he ate a couple more cinnamon rolls.


Cait said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cait said...

The only "eyewitnesses" who have been giving any sort of media interviews are affiliated with the Sigmas. Please consider that the sources you quote as gospel are very skewed. After all, you are a professor, are you not?

Additionally, Greg Carr and Preston Parker are the starting WR, not Surrency, not Easterling and certainly not Reed.

Furthermore, the FSUPD's most recent release to ESPN indicates that the players did not start the fight. The only question remains: who threw the chair? Was it a football player, or was it a Sigma? There are 25 witness statements, and they are wildly conflicting.

Before you throw stones from the comfortable confines of your ivory tower, you might consider waiting for facts, like the rest of us...

...or you could just continue posting hearsay with smug impugnity.

Profane said...


Did you carefully read the post? The fact that there were multiple versions of the event floating around was made clear from the start. Perhaps you missed this comment:

"As a professional historian, it is always quite interesting to watch the rumor mill churn when there is a contested version of events."

Furthermore, the concerns you raised about which set of eyewitnesses were talking were addressed in the second update.

Be mindful of the rules of engagement at this blog:

In particular:
"3. Do not launch personal attacks."

You have been warned.

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