The Virginia High School League has issued sportsmanship warnings to Group AAA Division 6 football state champion Gar-Field and runner-up Hampton.
Their football teams brawled after the title game at Hampton Dec. 8, which Gar-Field won, 13-12.
According to the VHSL, a five-member committee reviewed testimony from both sides before serving official notice that "inexcusable, unethical and irresponsible conduct has occurred and is a matter of record, and such occurrences may not be repeated in the future."
Despite using videotape for the first time in 20 years to review a sportsmanship violation, the committee was unable to determine which team started the fight.
"We saw a lot of testimony and saw a lot of tapes, and there was not conclusive evidence as to who started it," said Henry Featherston, the committee chairman.
He said more severe punishment was not given because the two principals already had disciplined the players involved. Gar-Field Principal Roger Dallek issued warnings to six players he felt went past the point of self-defense. Any future involvement in such incidents will result in the loss of athletic eligibility.
Hampton Principal Lowell Thomas took varying action against 25 players and students. Against underclassmen, he gave the same warning as did Dallek. Seniors have been put on behavioral probation in the classroom and at all school-related activites. Violation could mean not participating in graduation ceremonies.
Thomas took athletic eligibility from defensive back Tarik Cassells, who also runs track. According to Thomas, he witnessed on tape Cassells removing a Gar-Field player's helmet and preparing to hit him over the head with it before being restrained by other Gar-Field players.
Thomas also suspended from school for nine days a nonplaying student who participated, and barred from school grounds and activities a former student involved.