East Dealing With IHSA Sanctions From Brawl

ROCKFORD-The East-Jefferson post game basketball brawl March 4th at the Belvidere North Regional was a moment in this school year that won't be forgotten. It was a scene no one wants to see played out again, most of all the IHSA which has no tolerance for violence.  Five Jefferson basketball players and head coach Todd Brannan were suspended for the Regional Championship game three days later which the J-Hawks lost.

Since East's season was over, IHSA administrators took some more time to investigate and to consider punishment against East. 

The IHSA has since issued several steps that it expects East to follow. Five East players have been suspended indefinitely by the IHSA. They can petition for reinstatement once they've completed a sportsmanship course.

Coach Roy Sackmaster has been suspended for the opening game of next season. He also must complete a teaching and modeling behavior course.

East High School needs to develop a plan to prevent future incidents such as this one.

And East has been put on probation for one year.

District 205 Athletic Director Mat Parker says East has complied and is complying with the IHSA's demands.  He also says the five suspended players are subject to District punishment.

"According to our high school sports code they'll need to not participate in competitions for one-sixth of the season the next IHSA season that they participate in, so whether that's track and field, whether it's football, whether it's basketball."

One of the five suspended East players is graduating, the other four will return in the fall.  Some people might see the punishment as unfair considering Jefferson's suspensions were during a critical Regional Championship game, while East's suspensions can be served at the start of next season and even while participating in other sports.

When asked what he would tell those people who feel the punishment is unfair Parker said, "This is a ruling from the IHSA that we're complying with."

Parker says all incoming freshman athletes at East will take a sportsmanship course, and they'll have a refresher course each school year thereafter.  And district-wide the athletic code will be revisited this summer, and each sport at each school will have a specific handbook of standards that athletes and coaches must abide by.

"The message is this isn't how we react. This isn't how we resolve things," says Parker. "We hope with all of the things we have put in place that incidents like this will never happen again."

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