Eastern Michigan condemns postgame melee following 49-point loss to South Alabama

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee apologized for a postgame incident and condemned Eagles players’ actions following the team’s 68 Ventures Bowl loss to South Alabama on Saturday night.

The incident occurred as South Alabama players were listening to their band perform. An Eastern Michigan player, identified as Korey Hernandez, punched Jaguars player Jamarrien Burt. It sparked a melee between Jaguars and Eagles players before they were finally separated.

It was not clear what sparked the punch, but Wetherbee put out a statement on Sunday night.

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South Alabama Jaguars head coach Kane Wommack shakes hands with Eastern Michigan Eagles head coach Chris Creighton after their game in the 68 Ventures Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Dec. 23, 2023 in Mobile, Alabama. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

“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,” the statement read. “We are deeply upset and embarrassed by what happened. Their conduct does not reflect the great pride and high standards we place on the game and our program, and the expectations for good sportsmanship and exemplary conduct of student-athletes on and off the field. What happened was completely unacceptable. 

“We apologize to the Eastern Michigan University community and to the South Alabama team and their fans. I have been in contact with South Alabama Director of Athletics Joel Erdmann to express our sincere apologies and Coach Creighton has done the same with Coach Wommack. We are committed to sharing information and video to fully understand all that occurred. “

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Wetherbee said the school was still investigating the incident.

South Alabama athletic director Joel Erdmann also released a statement.

Marquise Robinson tackles

Cornerback Marquise Robinson, #7 of the South Alabama Jaguars, and safety Yam Banks, #8 of the South Alabama Jaguars, tackle wide receiver Isaac Smith, #14 of the Eastern Michigan Eagles, during the first half of play in the 68 Ventures Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Dec. 23, 2023 in Mobile, Alabama. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

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“I would like to extend my most sincere appreciation and gratitude to Jerry Silverstein and the City of Mobile for inviting us to participate in the 2023 68 Ventures Bowl. Our student-athletes and coaches enjoyed a first-class experience, and we are proud of them for winning the first bowl championship in school history in front of our loyal fans and community. It is an achievement that will not soon be forgotten,” Erdmann’s statement read. 

“While we are disappointed in the incident that occurred following our team’s victory, we are grateful to the leadership at Eastern Michigan University for taking ownership of the incident and reaching out to our leadership here at South Alabama to apologize and ensure us they will fully investigate the matter. We do not believe this incident is in any way reflective of the values of Eastern Michigan University or its football program. We hope this situation will not take away from the fact that the Jaguars are 68 Ventures Bowl Champions.”

68 Ventures Bowl trophy

Members of the South Alabama Jaguars hold up the 68 Ventures Bowl trophy after defeating the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the 68 Ventures Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Dec. 23, 2023 in Mobile, Alabama. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

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South Alabama won the game 59-10. 

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