GHSA issues penalties for Wilcox-Fitzgerald ‘brawl’ after football scrimmage

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[Breaking news: Click here for details of the written statements turned in by both schools with their versions of the brawl]

The GHSA has handed out penalties to Fitzgerald and defending Class A state champion Wilcox County after a confrontation involving players, coaches and fans after last week’s football scrimmage.

  • Each school was fined $250 for violating the rule about a “multi-player fight after a game”
  • Each school was put under “Severe Warning Status” through the end of the 2010 football season, meaning any future sportsmanship violation will result in more severe penalties.
  • Each school is banned from any scrimmages before the 2011 football season.

There were no player or coach suspensions, although each school may take internal disciplinary measures.

“Even when things happen out of the blue, someone has to be responsible,” said Ralph Swearngin, the GHSA’s executive director.

“We want to send a message to students, coaches, school administrators, and the general public that school-based athletics ought to be an example of people behaving properly. That wasn’t the case here.”

The post-game incident has been described as a “brawl involving more than 100 people.”

It appeared to be instigated after a nasty exchange of words between Wilcox County coach Mark Ledford and Fitzgerald coach Robby Pruitt as the teams lined up to shake hands. Ledford was upset at Fitzgerald for running up the score and fans cheering after quarterback Nick Marshall was briefly injured on a play, according to Wilcox officials.

“I am sure there were instances where people threw punches,” Swearngin said. “I think it’s interesting that in all the reports we got, they all indicated that things like punches and people getting hit by helmets did happen.

“But no one has a clue who did what to whom … In order to have a [suspensions], we would need jersey numbers and some kind of verifiable evidence that these were the people that actually did that.”

The only video available of the confrontation was from a fan’s cell phone and proved to be non-productive. “To our knowledge, there is no video evidence that captures it from beginning to end,” Swearngin said.

Both schools have the right to appeal the GHSA’s ruling, which was based on written reports from both principals and three City of Fitzgerald police offers. Swearngin said that the GHSA penalties might’ve been more severe had the incident happened after a game rather than a scrimmage.

Wilcox County and Fitzgerald, two of the state’s most successful football programs, are located 22 miles apart and do not play in the regular season. Both schools agreed it was best not to play each other in any other sports for the remainder of this year.

63 comments Add your comment

James John

August 20th, 2010
6:16 pm

Nick Marshall off the hook! Cause he’s a Dawg!

second fiddle

August 20th, 2010
6:17 pm

everybody was kung fu fighting…

x GHSA supporter

August 20th, 2010
6:46 pm

Another joke from Swearngin and his clones.

x GHSA supporter

August 20th, 2010
6:48 pm

What about the firing of Newton Coach…Thats another joke that needs your attention Mr Swearngin!!!!!

wolfbait 67

August 20th, 2010
7:22 pm

Enter your comments here

wolfbait 67

August 20th, 2010
7:25 pm

Does little Fitzgerald feel better now that they won a scrimmage game against a Class A school….come on FHS, you have an outstanding program down there in South Georgia …do not ruin it on something stupid


August 20th, 2010
7:25 pm

Testosterone’s a helluva drug!!

Joe Compton

August 20th, 2010
7:27 pm

In my day this would never have happened because I would have whipped all of Wilcox County myself.

Fitzgerald Alumni

August 20th, 2010
7:38 pm

On behalf of my home town and school, Fitzgerald, I offer my sincere apology for our actions and total disregard for sportsmanship. We are a town and team that is self-infatuated with ourselves and have absolutely no respect for any other school, institution, or coaching staff. Wilcox County officials, coaches, teachers, students, and players, Fitzgerald was wrong. We are classless, tasteless, and sometimes, clueless. We have come to think more highly of many of the local schools in and around us because we have a Shoneys, a recently renovated Burger King, and a soon-to-be newly renovated McDonalds. Also, a new Country Club with a brand new tennis court. These things have led to promoted pride in our little community and eventual downfall. Again, I am sorry for our complete disregard of class and sportsmanship.

Boys will be Boys

August 20th, 2010
7:44 pm

It was a brawl. They know it was wrong. Let them sort it out themselves. I guess the punitive action was about right. Boys will be boys.


August 20th, 2010
7:46 pm

Man, that’s just plain mean. Where the heck are these places anyway?


August 20th, 2010
7:54 pm

200 miles south.


August 20th, 2010
8:21 pm

The GHSA is a joke to start with. If they are supposed to be a fair and governing body then why do they allow tuitiont schools hand pick there athletes and controll enrollments to stay in a smaller classification. Clearly those schools need multiplyers. By the way the punishment fits the crime. The brawl was unfortunate, and shouldn’t have happenend. Oh did I mentioned the GHSA was a joke.


August 20th, 2010
8:25 pm

Atleast wilcox has a STATE CHAMPIONSHIP RING…Fitz doesn’t…Buford continues rule them…haha..sorry Canes…but they don’t give rings out for fighting either.

[...] Wilcox-Fitzgerald Brawl Published August 20, 2010 Uncategorized Leave a Comment Here is a story about the GHSA issuing a ruling in the brawl that took place following Wicox County ….  UGA commit Nick Marshall, who was allegedly involved, WILL NOT face any punishment for his role [...]


August 20th, 2010
9:11 pm

Fitzgerald Alumni,
Your point is well made in that you can’t overcome ignorance.It’s a proven fact!Can you believe that people get that riled up over a high school event? Simple minds!


August 20th, 2010
9:12 pm

a whopping $250 fine? Oh no!


August 20th, 2010
9:23 pm

Football players fight on the field?? Oh my what is the world coming to??


August 20th, 2010
9:25 pm

Correction: These places are 200 miles (and 50 years) south.


August 20th, 2010
9:29 pm

To the GHSA supporter: why does the GHSA need to get involved in something
like that ? Newton lost what appears to be a farily decent coach, but that looks to
be a matter that needed to be handled by the Newton High administrators which it
has been. I’m not happy about it as it definitely appears to have two differing stories.
The Fitzgerald/Wilcox episode doesn’t appear to be that bad, and certainly nothing
like Miami/Florida International in the recent past. If it happens again, make both teams
go and listen to Barney Frank. That’ll straighten them out, and Barney would enjoy a
visit from all of these young athletes !!!!


August 20th, 2010
9:32 pm

ahhh. So it is okay to have a free for all brawl at a scrimmage, but not at a “real” game? That $250 will cut deep into the turf budget for Fitz, for sure. And warnings? woooo hooooo….I bet THAT scared’em both!

Give me a break.

Wilcox ex patriot

August 20th, 2010
10:05 pm

bahahahahahaha, $250? give me a break! The boys should have taken off the helmets and pads and duked it out like men. Forget those pinko school admins or whoever it was who reported it. Long live competition… I hope the winners of the brawl got laid that night.

Cane lover

August 20th, 2010
10:52 pm

Seems to me Fitzgerald Alumni doesn’t need to say he’s Alumni…..REAL Fitz Alumni would’ve never posted that. We are proud of who we are. I’m not saying that I’m proud of what happened against Wilcox County, but it was an unfortunate situation for both teams. Now I’m not one that usually posts on these things. Actually, this is my first time doing it, but reading what Fitzgerald Alumni wrote made me want to. He wrote that was on behalf of Fitzgerald…..whatever….we don’t need you to make excuses for us. We are PROUD to be CANES and always will be. We have a record that speaks for itself….we don’t have to be self-infatuated. I love this town that I live in and will forever bleed PURPLE AND GOLD…..if you don’t, then you evidentally aren’t REAL Fitzgerald Alumni.

Hit A Single

August 20th, 2010
11:43 pm

Coaches have thugs playing and no control. They expect the refs to control discipline because they are scared they will make the player mad. It is a culture that we are accepting, kind of like you are not safe on the streets anymore.


August 20th, 2010
11:54 pm

This is our year we will destoy Buford this year, if we play, no one can stop us. The paasing game we got is the best in the state, we can beat 99.95 of the quad a teams!!


August 20th, 2010
11:56 pm

Fitzgerald Alumni you don’t know anything about the situation yet have to make stupid comments . Keep your thoughts to yourself because Fizgerald doesn’t need you as a spokesman .

Fitzgerald Alumni

August 21st, 2010
12:42 am

Fellow Purple Canes, You are demonstrating my very point. How can we in the face of our horrible actions on the field continue to justify our actions? We were wrong: coaches, players, fans. I am ashamed of this town and people where I was born. We are so arrogant for such a little town and for no reason. We got away with one. I just hope the coaches can man-up, teach our boys some discipline, and love this great game with dignity in the future. We are a laughing stock and a poor example of integrity. Quit trying to make excuses for our actions Cane fans.

I beg your parden, 50 years behind, then how do we have State champion temas in sports as well as Literary events, Academic events, and Beauty Pagents. AND we do not have to go through Major security to get to school functions! If a fight broke out in the

August 21st, 2010
1:23 am

Enter your comments here

North GA

August 21st, 2010
2:48 am

Bone head, you are 50 years behind. You may have won a couple state championship in single A which is basically a South GA tournament anyway. That also applies to your literary events statement considering only like 2 schools in south GA are highly regarded for their academics and neither of these 2 dumps apply. Lastly, we have won beauty pageants? Since when the 90’s, I’ll take a mediocre female from Calhoun over the best these 2 schools have ever produced. And by the way moron it’s pageant not pagent.

Wilcox Fan

August 21st, 2010
4:48 am

I speak as a father of a Junior High player. The whole thing is a complete joke, lack of respect that comes from Wilcox players is just unbelievable. Firstly, Ledford is a great coach but he needs to be a complete coach. Get control of your players. The great and grand Nick Marshall, he willl wash out first year at college, either academics or off the field trouble, which he has proven to be inclined to do over the summer. Cant find anything about that you say? Well thank Ledford for pulling Marshall’s fat out of the fire. Thats not the only one, but may as well start with the supposed leader of the team and his number one player. Ledford should have been the bigger man and just walked away from it all when things got heated, but that shoe fits on the other side of the field as well. The players taking jerseys off, and laying around on the sideline before the game was over, THAT was a deal breaker for me. My future high school football son was there at the game, what was that teaching him and his teammates?? Apologies to all the Fitzgerald players, fans, and coaches, but I think that should be said from both sides. Just my two cents.

wolfbait 67

August 21st, 2010
5:55 am

Sorry Jessie, but you must have got hit in the head by a flying bottle of POP, Dreamin again of beating Buford……not this year or next Charlie


August 21st, 2010
6:25 am

If you don’t know all that’s gone on at Newton over the last 4 years, then you are not qualified to comment. This was a last straw situation and I think the Rams are going to be better for it. Coaching high school men goes way beyond the field of play and I think Collins either lost sight of that or never grasped it to begin with.

fball fan

August 21st, 2010
8:11 am

GHSA decides when and where they will get involved and it has a lot to do with the people involved and the money they have.
They turn a blind eye to recruiting and to other illegal things that make it hard for all schools to compete on the same level.
They have raised ticket prices, making it tough on poorer schools to get patrons to pay, especially if they have a larger family.
The referees are no better than they used to be, although their paychecks went way up and the coaches working their tales off have gone down.
It is a racket and one in which good ole boys rule and forever.
Recently, there has been a big push on sportsmanship- ha! Ironic.


August 21st, 2010
8:42 am

Seems that since both schools can’t participate in a scrimmage next year this punishment hurts Wilcox more than Fitz. Fitz got to collect the gate as host last week. I am sure the Wilcox adm. was looking ff to collecting a similar gate next year when the Hurricanes visit next year. Unless the contract had bought that scrimmage game from Wilcox.


August 21st, 2010
8:43 am

Monkeys will be Monkeys………..

Fitz Fan

August 21st, 2010
9:19 am

I was not at the game but from what I hear this was not a shining moment for either team. I do take exception to North Ga about the women of Fitzgerald. Two have been Ms. Georgia including last years winner. She made it to the top 10 in the Ms. America contest. I don’t think that’s too shabby for a small town.


August 21st, 2010
9:44 am

One guy hit another guy in the jewels in the handshake line. “Nuf said about what started it.


August 21st, 2010
10:09 am

Big deal, $250 is fine for driving 15 miles per hr over the speed limit. GHSA you really did spank their little hand.


August 21st, 2010
10:26 am

Wii Nick Marshall be another thUGA ???

Bright Idea

August 21st, 2010
11:32 am

Just another 500 in the g-string of the ho called GHSA.

Former Wilcox player

August 21st, 2010
1:11 pm

I went to school in Rochelle during the mid 70’s. I played basketball and J.V. football there for 3 years. We couldn’t beat the gnats out of our faces. Yet, after all the loses, we still had the dignity leave the field or court with class. I just recently found this site on facebook, and was very pleased to see the team I love so much on top. While I’m sure this was an isolated incident, it is uncalled for. The brunt of the blame falls on the coaches. I have been coaching little league baseball for 6 years and out of all the games, there has never been a problem that escalated to this scale. There have been comments from opposing parents, but never a problem. The one thing I have learned is that you have to have control over your players, before, during, and after a game. I’ve aslo learned that you prove your point on the field. It’s the way you carry yourself off the field that defines a champion.

Purple People Eaters

August 21st, 2010
2:15 pm

wolfbait 67:
Yea, you won’t beat us because we recruit players from all over metro Atlanta and Gainesville and anywhere else who want to come to our football factory and play…Yea, they all live in apartments, and we got an address which makes it legal to play at Buford….We got a 30000 dollar sound system to present to our prospects when they come in for a visit….We rank only behind UGA in our recruiting budget, we spend more on recruiting than Tech and Georgia Southern….We are the best team that money can buy and recruit, you only have to pay a little a month to come to Buford because it is a city school and you get a chance to win a ring…And our coaches do a great job of taking these little 150 pound weaklings and making them into men who can win it all every year…But Fitz could get you this year, it could happen….Don’t really know how to rate the Buford Wolves this year cause I don’t know how many more recruits you might have brought in over the summer….


August 21st, 2010
2:30 pm

Fitz beat Tifton AAAAA last night” easy.”…………no fight but a lot of trash talk .

Prefers South GA Teams!!

August 21st, 2010
3:51 pm

To “Purple People Eater”: You say your grand Buford City School (just the name sounds getto) will beat Fitzgerald High. Maybe so. . . but your “team” is bought and stacked with players who are basically paid to play for your school. How impressive. . . NOT!!! A real high school football team is filled with players who earn the right to play and are honored to represent their school. A real high school football game has players (both teams) who equally play hard striving to win. These south Georgia high school teams have many players on their teams who are playing on the same field that their Dads and sometime their Grandfathers played on. They have family roots! These schools don’t go around begging for and buying athetes. Yeah this recruitment puts Buford City School at an advantage, but an “unfair” and “dishonest” advantage. So. . . big deal if they win anything. They did it unfairly. We’re talking about HIGH SCHOOL football. . . not college ball. And by the way, I live only a few miles from Buford, Georgia. However, I would perfer to live in Fitzgerald or Wilcox County any day!! Up here, the traffic is horrible, everyone is in a hurry, the air is full of smog, and the people are arrogant, rude, and snobs. But down there it is peaceful, the air is clean, and the people are good and friendly. And at least their football players earn the right to be on the team. . . they’re not bought. GO PATRIOTS!!!!!!!!

JB Stoner

August 21st, 2010
5:17 pm

How is it those Caucasians kick the tar out of the babies from Fitzgerald (A Yankee settlement) each year?


August 21st, 2010
5:57 pm

Sounds like there were some ruffians about after the scrimmage. Only came to do two things: drink some beer and kick some butt. Looks like they were out of beer.


August 21st, 2010
7:51 pm

Prefers South GA Teams, you need to do some research. Good ole Valdosta (think that is South Ga.) brought them in from all over the country….jobs for their dads. Result …..quite a few championships.


August 21st, 2010
9:58 pm

As an educator who tries to follow the code of Ethics set before me, I am very disappointed that these educators are allowed to talk to each other on a School owned facility in front of children and not be punished. If this happened in a classroom where the politics of sports were not involved, I would be without a job. Shame on you GHSA for not leading our children with example and shame on you educators for violating you code of Ethics. I dont care whos fault this is, adults know better especially those who are responsible for children. I hope you all apologied to your team, community and each other.


August 21st, 2010
10:20 pm

Poor Poor Fitzgerald. Having been apart of the community and apart of Fitzgerald High School, this incident doesn’t surprise me a bit. What a sad small town….one full of inflated egos, inflated dreams, and inflated men. It’s about time all three things got put into place.


August 21st, 2010
10:21 pm

Wow, talk about a slap on the wrist. That’s not even a slap, it’s a tap.