The undefeated Rocky Mount Prep boys basketball team will be playing in this year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association state playoffs after all.
After the school made an appeal on Monday, the NCHSAA’s executive committee ruled that Rocky Mount Prep should have only been assessed two ejections in a Jan. 30 altercation at Weldon.
By NCHSAA rule, a team is eliminated from postseason contention when three players are ejected for fighting, and “for fighting” includes players who leave the bench during an altercation – even if those players throw no punches. The ejections could take place in one game or over the course of several games.
Video obtained by The News & Observer shows two Rocky Mount Prep players involved in the fight between the scorer’s table and the Rocky Mount Prep bench.
“There really should’ve been only two athletes that were involved in the altercation, and that was something we presented to the committee,” Rocky Mount Prep head of school Todd Pipkin said.
According to Pipkin those two players – one of which was playing and the other had left the bench area – have been removed from the team. He also said the school would still be fined $500 for fighting by the NCHSAA and the basketball program is under probation for one year.
Pipkin said the school is taking other measures, like having players and parents sign a contract “to make sure our students understand the expectations no matter what they may face.”
“We said we don’t want this to happen again and one of the key things for us, we’ve put in some stipulations in going forward,” Pipkin said. “We really approached this as a more proactive way. And we didn’t blame anybody. The worst thing you can do is blame somebody for something you can control.”
Rocky Mount Prep is the only undefeated 1A boys basketball team in the state. The Jaguars went 20-0 on the regular season and won the Tar-Roanoke Athletic Conference.
Rocky Mount Prep and Weldon were involved in an altercation on Jan. 30 with Rocky Mount Prep leading 83-68 with 2 minutes, 26 seconds left in the game when the fight happened. The game was called final. The two teams were scheduled to play again the next night but that game was not be made up.
The NCHSAA said it does not comment on its rulings.