Updated at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.relatedarticlethumb
The Times Free Press has confirmed through the Brainerd High School administration and boys' basketball coach Levar Brown that the TSSAA has banned the program from the postseason for the next two seasons as punishment for the brawl that took place during last Saturday's home game against Austin-East.
"They have banned us from the postseason, but we will appeal that ruling next week," Brown said in a text message.
The ruling, which also will prohibit Austin-East from participating in the postseason, was handed down Friday afternoon, and both schools have 24 hours to notify the TSSAA if they intend to appeal. Both will be placed on restrictive probation for the rest of the current season as well as the 2018-19 season, meaning they are ineligible to play in the postseason. They also will be on probation for the 2019-20 school year but will be allowed to advance to the postseason then if there are no further violations.
TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said it is the organization's policy not to comment on any punishment handed down to member schools until after the appeals process.
Brainerd will be fined a total of $3,500, including $500 for players and fans coming onto the floor during an altercation.
Brown also confirmed that the team was allowed to resume playing, beginning with Friday night's home win over District 6-AA foe Hixson, until its appeal is heard. If the TSSAA's original decision is not overturned, Brainerd's season will end once the regular season is over both this year and next season.
Earlier in the week the TSSAA had suspended both teams' seasons until further notice after reviewing evidence related to the brawl, which broke out shortly before halftime.
At the time of that ruling, Childress said he had received six videos, including one from security cameras in the gym, as well as the report submitted by the game officials. The game was stopped with 2:20 remaining before halftime and was eventually ruled a no-contest after both teams emptied their bench areas and fans came onto the court from the stands during the brawl.
"We saw everything we didn't want to see," Childress said of the video footage earlier this week.
Both schools were allowed to submit recommendations for self-imposed penalties, which Childress said the TSSAA had accepted, along with the additional penalties the state's governing body added.
For Brainerd, those self-imposed penalties include being placed on disciplinary probation for the rest of the 2017-18 school year. The school also submitted to the TSSAA that its administration will collaborate with district staff to submit a security plan acceptable to district staff before all sports contests, will communicate the school's expectations for behavior at school events with parents, students and community members and the administration will emphasize the purpose of high school athletics and the principles behind TSSAA rules. The school administrators will continue to work with the SRO to identify fans who need to be banned from further contests.
The TSSAA accepted each of those recommendations by Brainerd but added the postseason suspension as well as the financial penalty.
One of Brainerd's remaining games is scheduled for Austin-East and was to be played in Knoxville. That game will not be played, according to Dr. Zac Brown, Brainerd's interim principal.
"We are pleased that the TSSAA accepted the majority of our proposals to handle this very difficult and regrettable situation," Dr. Brown said in a news release. "Brainerd High takes ownership of the incident in the game, and we understand this is not the environment of sportsmanship we desire for our players, our students or our fans.
"Our Brainerd community also understands the vitally important role extracurricular activities play in the school's climate and culture and the educational experience of our players, and we want to ensure that we consider the interest of students not involved in the incident as well as future players."