2 Tigers cited for role in fight

Punishment stems from skirmish after loss to Kansas.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:16 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

Missouri officials announced Monday that two women’s basketball players will be disciplined for their role in a postgame fight between several Kansas and Missouri players Saturday.

The news comes after a series of accusations and denials from members of both schools about the ugly scene at midcourt after Kansas’ 55-52 win at Hearnes Center.Missouri coach Cindy Stein and Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden released statements about the fight Monday, announcing that Missouri recommended disciplinary action for two of its players and will await any further action until the Big 12 Conference office reviews the fight.

The statements came one day after Kansas coach Marian Washington told The Kansas City Star that her players did not instigate the fight and that Missouri players directed obscene gestures at her team.

The Star also reported that Washington said members of Missouri’s band spat on her team while it left the floor, a claim Tom O’Neil, Missouri’s director of bands, said is “absolutely false.”

“It was an ugly scene, and from what I understand there was a lot of conflict going on after the game,” O’Neil said. “After talking with my colleagues in the athletic department, the two band (teaching assistants) that were in charge on Saturday and several senior members of the band, I am convinced that the paper is inaccurate.”

O’Neil said he was told some fans threw cups of ice at Kansas players as they moved past the Missouri band on their way off the floor, and that was likely where the confusion about the situation occurred.

The band was playing Missouri’s alma mater as Kansas left the floor, solidifying O’Neil’s claim that band members did not spit on Kansas’ players.

O’Neil added that band members possibly taunted Kansas players during and after the game, which he says is not condoned.

“We don’t encourage any kind of taunting because we always try to be a class act,” O’Neil said. “We work hard and we preach to our students that the band has been together for 118 years and we have an image to uphold.”

Joni James, a Big 12 spokeswoman, released a statement saying the conference will gather information and review a tape of the fight today to see whether any violations of the conference’s standard of conduct occurred.

Washington said Sunday she sees no reason to discipline any of her players. Washington could not be reached for comment, but Beau White, a Kansas sports information director, said Washington’s opinion has not changed.

Stein’s statement said two players will be disciplined, but the team will not announce who they are and to what extent those players will be punished until after the Big 12 reviews the situation.

“After reviewing what happened after Saturday’s game, it is clear that several players reacted in an inappropriate manner,” Stein said. “We will be disciplining two of our players for their actions, and will by no means rationalize or justify their behavior.

“It is not a reflection of the University of Missouri, and we will not tolerate it.”

Alden, who rushed onto the floor to try to break up the fight, said Missouri submitted a full report to the Big 12 on Monday.

“What transpired Saturday was an unfortunate incident and not indicative of proper behavior at the University of Missouri,” Alden said. “We take great pride in how we conduct ourselves, and this incident underscores the need to continue to focus on and reinforce good sportsmanship.”

Washington told The Star the fight began as the teams shook hands at midcourt after the game. Washington said Kansas freshman Laura Ervin raised her hands and began chanting “What streak?” in response to comments a Missouri player made in the newspaper about the Tigers’ seven-game winning streak against the Jayhawks heading into the game.

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