Multiple investigations are being conducted into a fight between the Austin-East and Brainerd High School basketball teams during a game on Jan. 27 that sent one player to the hospital.
Both teams have been indefinitely suspended by the TSSAA.
"The number one priority in any of our athletic contests is the safety of our student athletes," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said.
That safety was called into question Saturday night after the fight between players of both teams, as well as the fans, ended the game early. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Department is conducting an investigation of the incident. As of Tuesday afternoon, no one had been arrested.
Childress and the TSSAA have reviewed several camera angles of the event, including the security camera from the gym, however, they want both schools' administrations to determine punishments and how to prevent this situation moving forward.
"If we're not teaching kids life lessons and how to be good citizens and do the things we want them to do to be successful in society, then why are we doing it? What are we playing?" Childress said.
After speaking with TSSAA officials, both schools are reviewing the incident, and will take the following steps:
-The administrations of each high school will complete their investigations.
-They will alert the TSSAA of their findings, sharing with them the determined punishments for both teams.
-If the TSSAA deems these punishments acceptable, the organization will follow through. If deemed unacceptable, the TSSAA will set forth a final sanction.
Austin-East and Knox County officials declined to speak to WBIR on camera about the incident until the investigation was complete.
Nikiki Littlejohn has been part of the Austin-East community for years. She graduated in the 1990s and has a daughter who plays for the girls' basketball team. Littlejohn was at the game on Saturday, sitting just three rows behind the bench. She said an intense game between top-10 programs in the state got out of hand, in part, due to the officiating.
"I feel like referees are supposed to help calm down situations, but I believe they intensified situations," Littlejohn.
Littlejohn cited technical fouls called against the Austin-East Roadrunners and the referees' interactions with players and coaches. The whole ordeal has left her frustrated.
"We always look like we're fighting," said Littlejohn, "but what we're really fighting for is some respect."
Whatever consequences may come, Littljohn said Austin-East is ready to help their kids learn and grow.
"We're not gonna be a community that is gonna support a fight or a brawl," she said. "No, we don't want them to do that, but we're going to stand behind them and encourage them to make better choices. We want our community to shine."