WPIAL says discipline for ‘egregious’ Imani Christian-Steel Valley fight rests with schools

Monday, September 18, 2023 | 7:03 PM

“Egregious” was how WPIAL executive director Scott Seltzer described Friday’s fight between Imani Christian and Steel Valley football players, but he was optimistic there’d be a resolution without WPIAL intervention.

“It was a horrible thing that happened in that 60 seconds … but we really believe the schools will handle it,” Seltzer said Monday. “They tell us they’re going to.”

Seltzer said the WPIAL was awaiting reports from the two administrations detailing the discipline handed down by each school. If the WPIAL was satisfied with their response, the league wouldn’t get involved.

The WPIAL board discussed the fight Monday at its monthly meeting.

Two players were ejected by game officials Friday, one from each team. Seltzer said he anticipated additional players would receive school-issued discipline.

“There are times when officials can’t see everything, coaches can’t see everything,” he said. “When it’s that type of incident that happens, we hope that our member schools (take disciplinary action). If our member schools can follow through and do that, then that’s exactly what we want.

“It’s when they don’t that the WPIAL has to step in.”

The fight marred the final minute of the Allegheny Conference game played at Graham Field in Wilkinsburg. The remaining seconds were run off the clock and Steel Valley won, 17-6. Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo said the fight started after one of his defensive backs was roughed up on the Imani sideline.

A video recorded by a spectator and shared on social media showed a chaotic scene as one Steel Valley player slammed an opponent to the ground and an Imani Christian player threw punches.

“You see the kid slam the other kid. That’s bad,” Seltzer said. “You see another kid come in and punch a kid. But then what I do, being a former administrator, is try to see what else is happening. Those things are egregious and easy (to see).

“I try to look then at, ‘What are the adults doing?’” he added.

The fight was on Imani Christian’s side of the field, and Seltzer credited Saints coaches for diffusing the situation. Imani Christian coach LaRoi Johnson was seen on video separating players.

“They were trying to gain control of the area,” Seltzer said. “A fan, I think, got in there somehow and they escorted him out. They did what they were supposed to do. The adults sort of broke everything up. I think it lasted 60 seconds.”

Seltzer said game video recorded by each team didn’t capture the fight, so the social media clip was their best vantage point. He credited coaches for taking actions that didn’t further inflame emotions.

“I didn’t see anybody grab and throw a kid or something,” Seltzer said. “They were just getting kids away, getting kids back. Other adults, other (players) were grabbing the kids like, ‘Get out of there.’”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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