Florida State players brawl with members of Phi Beta Sigma at student union

Updated: November 14, 2008, 11:45 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A brawl involving Florida State football players at the university's student union apparently stemmed from bad blood between some of the athletes and members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, a university investigator said.

"They weren't just slugging it out for no reason," Maj. James Russell said Thursday. "We think there is probably some history there.

"There were some football players there, but police are determining their involvement. We're trying to find out who was involved in the fight and who was standing around watching."

On Friday, Russell told ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman that additional witness are being interviewed and investigators have taken 25 statements already and expect to collect more. The investigation, Russell said, has determined that a female bystander, thought not to have been involved in the melee, was struck in the face by a chair. The woman was treated and released from a local hospital. Determining the identity of the person who threw the chair has become a priority in the investigation, Russell said.

Russell confirmed that football players were among at least 10 students involved in the fight Wednesday afternoon at FSU's student union. On Friday, Russell said at least five players played a role in the brawl.

Russell said he added a second investigator to the case "to get a better picture of what happened." No suspects have been named due to "conflicting statements and to protect the integrity of the investigation," he said. More information would be made available in the next couple of days, Russell said.

Coach Bobby Bowden said Thursday he expected to hear from authorities soon.

"There's not much I can say," Bowden said. "We haven't gotten the final report yet.

"Our players will not be interviewed tonight. ... The police will look into it and let us know what they think."

Florida State players become ineligible immediately if charged with a felony, according to school policy. Receiver Preston Parker missed the first two games this season as part of his punishment for an arrest earlier this year on drug and weapons charges. His felony weapons charge was reduced before he could regain his eligibility.

Bowden has already suspended key team members for the past three weeks for breaking team or university rules.

Bowden said he can't talk about Wednesday's altercation or possible discipline until after he learns what action, if any, university police will take.

The veteran coach said he wasn't sure what action he would take if the police report is made public before Saturday's homecoming game against Boston College.

"I don't know," Bowden said Thursday. "I'd have to go talk to our athletic director."

Authorities said although the brawl has required a criminal investigation, it does not necessarily mean anyone will be arrested or charged.

The Seminoles (7-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) began the season short 12 players. One missed the first two games and the others three games for their roles in an academic cheating scandal that took place some 20 months ago. Florida State imposed penalties on itself, including suspending the athletes involved and taking away scholarships from teams that had members involved. The NCAA is deciding whether it will impose additional punishment.

Bert Reed missed games against Clemson and Virginia Tech, in one instance, for skipping classes, and Corey Surrency was suspended for the Georgia Tech game for a violation of team policy. Both also are receivers.

Two little-used freshmen also sat out last week's Clemson game for an unspecified violation of team rules or school policy. The most typical suspensions are for missing classes or failing random drug tests.

ESPN.com college football writer Heather Dinich, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Bruce Feldman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.