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VSU suspends for semester football player charged in fight

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Virginia State University has suspended for one semester the football player who was charged in the fight that led to the cancellation of the CIAA championship football game in November.

The university also expelled a student charged in a stabbing in October and announced it has hired a Delaware consulting firm to study campus security as the result of that incident and the fatal shooting of a student the next month.

Michael M. Shackleford, VSU’s vice president for student affairs, gave the board of visitors an update on the cases Thursday without mentioning the students’ names.

But he confirmed the suspended student was VSU running back Lamont Britt, who was charged with misdemeanor assault after the fight that left the quarterback for Winston-Salem State University with cuts around his eye.

Britt’s case, which was scheduled to be heard this week in Forsyth County, N.C., was postponed until April 15 after having previously been delayed from a Dec. 9 court date.

Britt is accused of hitting WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson in the face and head in a restroom Nov. 15 during the CIAA awards luncheon.

VSU contracted with a Washington attorney to investigate the fight after heated allegations by WSSU’s chancellor, who charged that the university “lacked institutional control over its football team.”

The report has not been completed, university spokesman Tom Reed said this week.

Reed said in a statement that VSU originally hoped to complete its investigation in December. “However, in deference to the ongoing criminal investigation of this incident, the university will not finish its investigation until the judicial process has concluded,” he said.

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The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which also is investigating the fight, declared VSU’s team ineligible for postseason play. WSSU Chancellor Donald Reaves is seeking sanctions against VSU, including reimbursement for revenue lost after the championship weekend was canceled.

In his presentation to a board committee, Shackleford said VSU contracted with the Powhatan Group of Wilmington, Del., to conduct the campus security study at a cost of about $25,000.

Representatives of the group were on campus Wednesday to begin work, he said, with a report due to him by March.

But as a result of the incidents, changes already have been made, Shackleford said, including more foot patrols and increased security at the university-owned, off-campus apartment complex where the student was killed.

Eric N. Wilkins Jr., a 22-year-old junior, was killed Nov. 21 at the gated University Apartments, about a half-mile from campus. A Hopewell man who was not a VSU student has been charged in the slaying.

The shooting and the earlier stabbing incident so alarmed VSU students that several attended an emergency meeting called by the board of visitors, where the decision was made to hire a security consultant.

The stabbing occurred at a homecoming event after fights broke out, causing the university to lock down the campus. Kemal Jackson-Hinton, 22, a senior English major from Fort Washington, Md., was charged with stabbing another student in the thigh. The victim was treated at a hospital and released.

Shackleford said the student charged in the stabbing was expelled and will not be permitted to return to VSU. The suspended player will, however, be allowed to return.

He told board members the number of assaults on campus rose from 30 in 2012 to 42 in 2013.

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