The IHSA announced early Friday afternoon that five Jefferson boys basketball players and head coach Todd Brannan were suspended from Friday’s 7 p.m. Class 4A Belvidere North Regional championship game.
The No. 2-seeded J-Hawks (18-12) will play No. 1 Huntley (20-7) in the game, but Brannan and three starters – M.L. Moore, Chaz Johnson and Montel Brown – will not participate. Two other reserve players also were suspended.
The sanctions were levied after a fight between Jefferson and Rockford East broke out following Tuesday’s regional semifinal. Jefferson won that game, 51-49, on a last-second shot and the fight started in the handshake line a few moments later.
Brannan had told the Rockford Register-Star on Thursday that he and the players would be suspended. The IHSA made it official Friday afternoon.
“This type of conduct is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said. “We appreciate the cooperation we have received from both schools and their support in sending the message that individuals who fight will lose the opportunity to represent their schools in IHSA events."
Rockford Public Schools released a statement Friday afternoon, stating it would comply with the IHSA ruling.
"What happened is highly unusual. The behavior and actions that took place are not acceptable, and they do not fall in line with what we practice every day in Rockford Public Schools with our students and student athletes," the statement read.
"This was an isolated incident and does not define or depict our schools. Our student athletes, coaches, community members and parents act in an appropriate and professional manner the vast majority of the time. We remain disappointed in the actions of a few and proud of the direction of the Rockford Public Schools athletic programs."
The IHSA said it will announce penalties for Rockford East in the near future. Since the E-Rabs’ season is over, any suspensions will be served to start next season.