As the West Virginia women’s basketball team was putting the finishing touches on a 59-56 win over Hawaii at the Rainbow Wahine Classic Sunday night, a fight broke out behind the Mountaineers bench. According to a TV report:
a UH fan located directly behind the West Virginia bench was heckling Mountaineer fans. He then got into a shouting match with members of the WVU staff in the closing seconds of the game.
A West Virginia supporter grabbed the Hawaii fan which jump-started a brawl that spilled on to the Stan Sheriff Center floor.
There were no arrests. But there was one injury: Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay. It appears he was hit with a chair or some other object. From the Star Advertiser:
“He was either stomped, hit with a chair or punched. He was in the middle of it, but he did a remarkable job of trying to break things up. People lost their minds. Talk about mob mentality. People were looking for a reason to fight and be ignorant. I hope Ben is OK but he got hit really good.”
The wife of West Virginia coach Mike Carey fainted during the fight, but all indications are that she’s fine.
[UPDATE: Jeff Culhane from the Mountaineer Sports Network was at the game and close to the incident. Here’s what he saw. He apologies in advance for the ALL CAPS:
I WAS SITTING COURTSIDE NEXT TO THE WVU BENCH PROBABLY 30 FEET AWAY FROM THE INCIDENT. I SAW A LARGE MAN, WEARING A GREEN HAWAII T SHIRT RUN FROM THE STANDS AND RUSH THE WVU BENCH WHERE THE STUDENT-ATHLETES WERE LOCATED. THE MAN BOUNCED OFF THE BENCH AND RUSHED A SECOND TIME. AT THAT TIME THE WVU STRENGTH COACH PUT HIS ARMS AROUND THE HAWAII FAN TO GET HIM AWAY FROM THE BENCH AND STUDENT-ATHLETES WHILE TRYING TO DIFFUSE THE SITUATION. IT WAS THEN THAT FANS CAME OUT OF THE STANDS, BOTH WEST VIRGINIA AND HAWAII, AND MUCH PUSHING AND SHOVING ENSUED. I DID NOT SEE ANY PUNCHES THROWN BY ANY ONE PERSON. THERE WERE ALLEGED REPORTS THAT HAWAII AD BEN JAY MAY HAVE BEEN STRUCK BY A CHAIR. THAT IS NOT TRUE, NO CHAIRS WERE USED BY ANYONE TO HARM ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL. THE WVU STUDENT ATHLETES WERE TOLD TO HEAD TO THE LOCKER ROOM WHICH THEY DID. AFTER TWO MINUTES OR SO, THE FAN WEARING THE HAWAII T SHIRT WHO RUSHED THE WVU BENCH WAS ESCORTED AWAY FROM THE SCENE BUT WHAT LOOKED TO BE ADMINISTRATION FROM UH AND NOT SECURITY.
I WAS TOLD AFTER THE FACT THIS FAN WAS HECKLING FROM TIPOFF TO FINAL HORN DURING THE GAME AND AFTER THE GAME WAS OVER BEGAN TO TALK DIRECTLY AT THE WVU WOMEN’S PLAYERS ON THE BENCH. IT WAS AT THAT TIME SOME WORDS WERE EXCHANGED AND THE FAN CAME OUT OF THE STANDS TOWARDS THE WEST VIRGINIA BENCH.]