CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia, went on the defense Friday after using the word 'thugs' to describe the Woodrow Wilson High School Girls' Basketball team.
The comments referenced an altercation during the team's game with Greenbrier East. The game was called with five minutes left on the clock, when a fight broke out between a Greenbrier East fan and an assistant coach at Woodrow Wilson High that landed the coach in handcuffs.
"If I've offended anyone with what I've said, I'm sorry. At the same time, one of the other coaches is charged with obstructing a police officer. We have to stand up against bad behavior. And what happened there was just terrible."
The Assistant Coach Gene Nabors was cited for Obstructing an officer.
Gov. Justice answered questions Friday on whether any officers acted as his direction. "No. We can make up anything we want to make up. I don't have any clue who responded. There were multiple people involved from the standpoint of police."
After a review of the game, West Virginia's high school sports governing body put five players for Woodrow Wilson High on a two-day suspension for leaving the bench during the fight.
Gov. Justice did not place blame on the young ladies, though, maintaining that the responsibility rests at the top.
"It was just bad. It was bad when we played at Woodrow. The conduct is not becoming of what we need high school athletics to be."
In a Facebook post by the team on Friday, the Woodrow Wilson Girls Basketball Team responded, saying in part:
"During a time-out during the fourth quarter, our assistant coach went to our administrators to deal with an unruly fan. Shortly after that, behind the bench our assistant coach was pushed down, handcuffed, and arrested by the police....our girls reacted. They reacted out of shock, disbelief, and love ran toward their coach. That's it. Yes, they left their bench. That's not an unusual reaction given the circumstance, nor is it a crime."