Six each from South Carolina, Clemson

Updated: November 29, 2004, 9:57 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Six Clemson players and six South Carolina players were suspended one game by their conferences Monday for brawling during a game between the in-state rivals Nov. 20.

The Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference handed down the punishment.

"The actions of these suspended student-athletes violate the letter and spirit of the SEC and NCAA rules and regulations of sportsmanlike conduct," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "These suspensions are intended to send a clear and unequivocal message to all student-athletes in the Southeastern Conference that this conduct will not be tolerated now or in the future."

Both schools declined bowl invitations last week as punishment for their teams.

Clemson's Duane Coleman, Nathan Bennett, Brandon Cannon, Roman Fry, Maurice Nelson and Anthony Waters were suspended. Four other Clemson players will receive letters of reprimand: Cory Groover, Tommy Sharpe, Nick Watkins and Bobby Williamson.

It will be up to the team to decide when the players will serve their suspensions. The Tigers open the season against Texas A&M on Sept. 3.

"There is no justification for the altercations that took place," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said in his first public comments since the schools declined bowl bids. "I am disappointed in the actions of some of our players, but 90 percent of them either stayed out of it or tried to break it up."

The ACC also said senior tailback Yusef Kelley, seen kicking a South Carolina player who lay face-down with his helmet off, would have been suspended but does not have any eligibility remaining.

ACC commissioner John Swofford commended Clemson for its immediate action last week. The conference said it did a thorough review of video footage before handing out the suspensions.

"The ACC is compelled to take this action because of the nature and seriousness of the situation," Swofford said. "What took place in the South Carolina-Clemson game has no place in college football or any other sporting event."

For South Carolina, Daccus Turman, Jermaine Sims, Freddy Saint-Preux, Woodly Telfort, Moe Thompson and Charles Silas must sit out the season-opener against Central Florida on Sept. 3.

The SEC also said three other players -- Matthew Thomas, Taqiy Muhammad and Jamacia Jackson -- would have been suspended if they had any eligibility remaining.

South Carolina's Thompson said Monday night the team learned of the discipline at a meeting with new coach Steve Spurrier.

"I try not to look back at it because it's very frustrating," said Thompson, a defensive end.

Spurrier said he didn't think he'd tack on additional penalties for the Gamecocks involved.

The brawl broke out with about six minutes left in the game. It started when Tigers defensive lineman Bobby Williamson took down South Carolina quarterback Syvelle Newton and appeared to linger too long on top of him.

Gamecock offensive lineman Chris White came to Newton's defense, and eventually both sidelines cleared.

South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, in his last game after 33 seasons, and Bowden tried to break up the brawl, but the fight stretched nearly 60 yards along the field.

The suspended Clemson players issued a collective statement.

"We realize there is no place for fighting in college athletics and we accept the suspensions," the statement said. "We apologize to any Clemson alumnus or college football fan who was embarrassed by what happened."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press