Eight Hixson High School boys' basketball players have been dismissed from the team for leaving the playing court and bench area when an altercation broke out in the stands during a game last week.
Late in the third quarter of Tuesday's game at East Hamilton, the incident involving fans from both sides escalated to the point that the eight players from Hixson ran into the stands.
There were no arrests because the incident was only a verbal confrontation. Although reportedly no punches were thrown, players going into the stands are automatically ejected and suspended for at least two games under TSSAA rules. Hixson administrators decided to dismiss the eight players, which left only three on the varsity, so they are moving up junior varsity players to finish out the season.
"Leaving the court or bench area to go into the stands is a very serious offense in our eyes and the TSSAA's eyes," Hixson athletic director Brian Bray said. "The kids made a bad decision, and hopefully they will learn a lesson from this.
"We had to do what we felt was right for our athletic program and send a message that we won't tolerate things like that. Those kids can come out and play spring sports for us without any further punishment, and our basketball program will go forward and make the best of this now."
The multiple ejections left Hixson without enough players to finish Tuesday's game, resulting in the officials ending the game and awarding the Hurricanes the victory. The Wildcats then forfeited Thursday's scheduled game at Soddy-Daisy.
East Hamilton had one player who was already in the stands receiving treatment from an athletic trainer. When the confrontation happened, that player stood up in the stands and also was ejected. That player has since served a two-game suspension.
"I've been involved with officiating the game for 40 years and that's the first time I remember that happening, with so many players from one team rushing into the stands like that," said Leon Rash, the head of the Chattanooga-area officials association.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.