SWAC suspends 41 players

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The Southwestern Athletic Conference has suspended 41 players for at least one game after a postgame fight between Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The league announced the suspensions -- 25 Pine Bluff players and 16 from Southern -- and undisclosed fines against the universities Thursday. Most of the suspensions were for one game, but eight players will miss two for using "excessive force," the league said.

The fight broke out after Southern scored on the final play and Arkansas-Pine Bluff blocked the extra point to preserve a 22-21 win.

"What took place following Saturday's Southern/UAPB game has no place in college football," SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp said. "The conference is taking this action because of the nature and seriousness of the situation. Officials at both Southern University and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff have been very cooperative in addressing this issue with the conference office, and we thank them for their cooperation. These suspensions send a clear and definitive message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated."

Among the 25 Pine Bluff players sitting out are leading receiver Desmond Beverly, No. 2 tackler and sack leader Joe Dalton and No. 2 rusher Stephen Jones. Beverly and Jones are out for two games. Jones is leading the team in scoring with nine touchdowns. No. 4 tackler Ryan Shaw is also suspended.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff's next two games are against Grambling State and Alabama State.

Southern's suspensions included three of its four leading tacklers, Jamie Payton, Levi Jackson and Anthony Balancier, along with top receiver LaQuinton Evans. Payton, who has 68 tackles, will miss two games.

Evans has caught 30 passes for 479 yards and his five touchdowns lead the team.

Southern plays next against Alcorn State and then visits Texas Southern.