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Eastern Michigan apologizes to South Alabama for player’s punch that sparked brawl after bowl game

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Eastern Michigan’s athletic director apologized to South Alabama on Sunday, a day after an EMU player raced onto the field after the 68 Ventures Bowl and punched an opposing player in the head, sparking a brawl.

The confrontation happened as South Alabama’s players, cheer squad and band lined up to sing the school song following a 59-10 rout of Eastern Michigan on Saturday night on its home field, Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

An unidentified EMU played charged into the group and punched a South Alabama player in the back of the head. Another South Alabama player dragged the EMU player onto the field, sparking a free-for-all among members of both teams as smaller skirmishes also broke out.

“We strongly condemn the actions of some of the student-athletes on the EMU football team in the ugly incident that took place following last night’s 68 Ventures Bowl,” Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said in a statement Sunday. “We are deeply upset and embarrassed by what happened. … What happened was completely unacceptable.”

Wetherbee reiterated what EMU coach Chris Creighton said in his postgame news conference, that there is “absolutely no place for this kind of incident” in the football program. He apologized to the EMU community, the South Alabama team and its fans.

Wetherbee said he had been in contact with South Alabama’s athletic director and that Creighton had reached out to Jaguars coach Kane Wommack. He also said EMU had been in contact with the Mid-American Conference commissioner and the parties will work to investigate the incident, promising appropriate actions as more information is gathered.

South Alabama AD Joel Erdmann issued a statement Sunday saying he was disappointed in the postgame conflict, but was grateful that EMU “took ownership” of the confrontation and apologized.

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