- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An independent investigation paid for by Virginia State University has concluded that only one Trojan player took part in the assault of Winston-Salem State quarterback Rudy Johnson that lead to the cancellation of the CIAA championship game in November.

The investigation, conducted by Washington D.C.-based attorney Robert L. Clayton, also concluded that the assault was not premeditated and resulted from trash-talking that one witness described as “comical.” The assault took place in a bathroom while WSSU was hosting a championship luncheon on campus on the eve of the league championship.

Officials at WSSU, which was asked to conduct its own investigation for the CIAA, had no comment on the VSU findings. CIAA officials said Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter was out of the office and she did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The results of the investigation were first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Virginia State running back Lamont Daniel Britt is charged with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury. Britt faces a court hearing in Forsyth County, N.C., on April 15.

Johnson appeared at a press conference three days after the assault with a blackened right eye. He alleged that he was punched, stomped and kicked by as many as six Trojans players in the bathroom.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association cancelled the title game after the fight. The conference also declared WSSU the league champion and banned Virginia State from its anticipated participation in the NCAA playoffs.

At the time of the incident, Trojans football coach Latrell Scott said four other players were questioned by police. The independent investigation states that eight Virginia State players were in or near the bathroom where the assault took place. It states that two or three Winston-Salem State players also were present.

The names of all the Virginia State players mentioned in the report were redacted, although in the report an unnamed student-athlete - which Virginia State spokesman Tom Reed confirmed was Britt - has been suspended for the spring semester, placed on probation for one year if he returns to school, ordered to do 30 hours of community service and get anger management help.

Reed declined say whether Britt, if he returns to school, would be allowed to return to the football team.

In his report, Clayton recounted the sworn testimony of eight VSU players.

Several of them recalled hearing what one player described as “innocent trash talk” in the bathroom. Another called the banter “comical” and said it caused players from both teams to laugh. Many of the players also recalled seeing an unnamed player punch Johnson in the face, followed by Johnson holding his eye, although their accounts differed as to whether or not Johnson was knocked to the floor by the blow.

In the report, one player said there was “trash talking and laughing” in the bathroom until Johnson was punched, causing the player giving the account to quickly usher Britt out of the bathroom. However, that player also said he did not acknowledge having seen the blow when questioned by WSSU police because he said he was trying to protect his teammate. Reed said whether that player would be disciplined further was an internal matter.

Another unnamed player in the report, presumably Britt, said Johnson began engaging in trash talk that was “offensive in tone” and “glared … in a threatening manner.” The player said that in response to Johnson’s “threatening body language,” he “struck Johnson in the face with a closed fist.”

In the report, Virginia State Police Chief Michael C. Wallace recounted his repeated attempts to obtain a copy of the detailed WSSU police report from WSSU police chief Patricia Norris, and said she said the information could only be obtained via a court order.

Clayton said Norris’ failure to cooperate with the VSU investigation was “disappointing.”


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