By: Anna Simoes
A large fight involving players broke out at the end of the home football game between Western Connecticut State University and Westfield State on Saturday, November 10, prompting both schools and campus police to launch separate investigations into the brawl.
According to a press release issued by WestConn’s Police Department, the fight occurred around 3 p.m. near the athletic field on the Westside campus at the end of the contest between the Westfield State Owls, from Western Massachusetts, and the Colonials. No major injuries were reported, and despite a strong police response, no arrests were made on the day of the altercation. However, WestConn officials said this week that the incident is being investigated by the university, and that disciplinary measures against student-athletes involved in the fight could result from the school’s own investigation.
WestConn’s Director of Athletics, Lori Mazza, described the fight at the end of the 27-13 victory by Westfield State on the Colonials’ home field as both appalling and embarrassing to WestConn’s football squad.
“On behalf of the athletic department, we regret and are embarrassed by the events that took place on November 10 after the football game,” Mazza said in a statement. “The conduct displayed was appalling and a total disrespect to the game and opponent. As the investigation progresses, any type of discipline and education will be appropriate. It is imperative to ensure that whether we win or lose, respect for our opponent should be on display and is an expectation moving forward. I would also like to thank those players, staff and others who assisted in resolving the issue as expeditiously as possible.”
Mazza said the internal WestConn investigation includes working with the university’s police department.
A player from the WestConn football squad, who asked not to be named to avoid unwanted attention both on the team and at school, said he wasn’t directly involved in the altercation, but witnessed the brawl.
“It was chaos,” the WestConn player said. “A bunch of things were happening, and I was just minding my business.”
The player said that tensions were running high between some members of both teams even before the first kickoff, with verbal exchanges between several players on each squad taking place prior to the contest on the gridiron.
“It kind of started before the game, like nobody was throwing punches, but they were talking smack,” the player said. He added that he was towards the back when the teams faced off in pre-game warm-ups, so he wasn’t clear on who started the conflict, but said it seemed pretty equal in terms of the “smack talk.”
Describing the magnitude of the post-game physical fight, the WestConn player who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that police got involved when it seemed the coaches weren’t enough to stop the fracas.
Westfield State’s Director of Campus Communications Tricia Oliver said in an emailed statement that Westfield is also conducting its own investigation into the “unfortunate” incident.
Oliver stated: “As directed by the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Westfield State University Athletics Department is conducting an internal investigation of Saturday’s events and cooperating with MASCAC [Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference] to answer its questions. Although an unfortunate turn of events did take place following Saturday’s competition, we have appreciated the outreach extended by Western Connecticut State University. On a positive note, this incident affords us and our competitors the opportunity to stress the importance of sportsmanship and the other expectations of our student athletes’ conduct as they participate in intercollegiate competition.”
The Echo will be following the investigations into the fight and will cover any disciplinary actions taken by either university, the league or law enforcement.