Miami trustees discuss brawl; Coker safe for now

Updated: October 18, 2006, 1:42 AM ET
By Joe Schad | Special to ESPN.com

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- About two dozen members of the University of Miami board of trustees met for two hours on Monday morning, spending the last 30 minutes discussing Saturday's ugly brawl with Florida International and the future of Hurricanes coach Larry Coker.

Gene Wojciechowski's take
Gene Wojciechowski
Something has to change at Miami, beginning with the punishment. Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford meant well when he initially issued a one-game suspension for all 13 UM players involved in this disaster area, but the penalty was laughable. It isn't a slap on the wrist; it's a soothing caress and manicure.

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Bill Curry's take
Bruce Feldman's take Insider

More Audio
•  TV analyst Lamar Thomas tells the Dan Patrick Show he got "caught up in the moment" during the FIU-Miami brawl and doesn't condone fighting. ListenInsider

• Mike and Mike discuss the brawl and Thomas' unbelievable comments about what was going on. Listen

• Miami alumnus Michael Irvin says Thomas should be fired for his comments during the FIU-Miami telecast -- and says the incident adds to reasons why Larry Coker should be fired. Listen Insider

• David Albright and Ivan Maisel discuss what has, what is, and what should happen to Miami and FIU after the brawl. ESPNU College Football Insider

• Joe Schad talks about the Miami-FIU fallout and addresses some of the other hot topics in college football. Listen Insider

According to the trustee who attended the meeting, President Donna Shalala said: "Nobody's job is in jeopardy now."

Shalala, the trustee said, is standing by her committment to Coker, at least through this season, adding that the fight was "embarrassing" but "not cause for dismissal."

"Saturday's on-field melee has no place at the University of Miami," Shalala said in a prepared statement issued during the meeting. "Regardless of who started it, this was an embarrassing display of unsportsmanlike behavior."

"FIU President Mitch Maidique and I talked by phone shortly after the incident on Saturday night. We both expressed deep disappointment and apologized to each other on behalf of our institutions," Shalala said in the statement. "The ACC maintains rigorous behavioral and academic standards for student-athletes. We are satisfied with their decision."

Miami has suspended 13 players for at least one game. On Monday afternoon, after further consultation between the ACC and the school, the suspension of sophomore safety Anthony Reddick was extended indefinitely. All other suspended players will face additional disciplinary measures, including community service.

Florida International called a news conference for later Monday, at which time further "much harsher penalties" would likely be announced, coach Don Strock said.

"This is certainly embarrassing. It's disgraceful. It's amazing. I've run out of words," Strock said Monday. "There's no place for it in college football or football period. This is way overboard. I apologize to all the fans of college football for this taking place."

"It's a real embarrassment," FIU linebacker Keyonvis Bouie said, "especially for our school. ... I'm just really disgusted with our players and the way we handled the situation."

The mayhem began shortly after halftime, when Miami's James Bryant pointed at the FIU bench and bowed to the crowd after catching a touchdown pass. Moments later, on the point-after attempt, FIU's Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Perrelli to the ground and punched him.

The benches cleared and the two teams skirmished for five minutes, as several players from both sides were seen throwing punches. Miami's Brandon Meriweather was seen attempting to stomp on FIU players, while an injured Golden Panther swung a crutch menacingly at several Miami players. Reddick charged across the field, helmet raised over his head, and slammed it into FIU's Robert Mitchell.

The fight marred what was supposed to be the beginning of a rivalry between two schools with players who grew up playing each other on high school fields in South Florida.

Joe Schad is ESPN TV's national college football reporter. Information from The Asssociated Press was used in this report.

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