Memphis punishes 12 players for bowl brawl

Memphis, TN ( - Memphis says it has punished 12 football players involved in an ugly brawl with BYU following the Miami Beach Bowl last month.

The university said Tuesday the 12 players were issued "stern and appropriate penalties" for their roles in the fight, including suspensions ranging from a single half to two games, but did not name individual players.

It said individual suspensions would be announced "in conjunction" with the first game next season.

Memphis said in its statement that the programs worked together on the matter and that players from both teams would participate in a conference call where formal apologies will be issued.

BYU did not announce any punishments, saying in a statement it was handling the matter internally.

"We are grateful for the cooperation and communication that has taken place between BYU and the University of Memphis in an effort to live up to the high ideals of sportsmanship to which we both aspire," the school said in an email to "BYU also has completed a thorough review of the incident. The determined disciplinary measures are being handled internally."

Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said the university holds its students "to the highest standards of sportsmanship and personal conduct."

"The actions of a few members of our football program in Miami were completely unacceptable," he said. "I can assure our community, fans and stakeholders that we have and will continue to hold our young men and women accountable and will use this unfortunate incident as a teaching tool for all our student- athletes moving forward."

Memphis issued its penalties following a review by the university and American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco.

The penalties included mandatory anger-management counseling and community service hours and additional team-regulated punishments to be decided by head coach Justin Fuente and his staff.

After Memphis beat BYU 55-48 in double-overtime on Dec. 22, a large on-field melee erupted in which players from both teams exchanged punches, leaving some bloodied.

The brawl appeared to start with Memphis defensive lineman Martin Ifedi and BYU offensive lineman Tejan Koroma, but many other players were involved.

In a blow captured live on the TV broadcast, BYU defensive back Kai Nacua punched Memphis tight end Alan Cross from behind as Cross was being held by one of his coaches. Nacua was bleeding from a cut below his left eye.

Elsewhere, Memphis offensive lineman Chase Johnson was seen swinging his helmet at a BYU player and Cougars linebacker Harvey Langi appeared to throw several rapid punches at an opponent.

Fuente said after the game, "It's not who we are. It's not what we want to represent. I hope it doesn't take away from an incredible football game on both sides."