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Y. police probe scuffle at game
U. cheerleader punched Y. fan who tackled him

SHARE Y. police probe scuffle at game
U. cheerleader punched Y. fan who tackled him

PROVO -- Brigham Young University police are investigating a fight that broke out between a University of Utah cheerleader and a Cougar fan at last weekend's game.

The cheerleader, William M. Priddis, was carrying a large red and white flag when he was tackled from behind after a touchdown in the second half of Utah's victory. Priddis repeatedly punched the fan, who was detained for the remainder of the game. BYU police would not release the fan's name, but the Deseret News learned he is Brandon Perry of Sandy.So far, no citations have been issued in connection with the incident, witnessed by many of the 65,000-plus fans in attendance. A BYU police detective is gathering evidence -- including a videotaped copy of news footage shot by a KUTV (Ch. 2) photographer -- before forwarding the case next week to the Provo City Attorney's Office.

A second videotape was obtained from BYU's football office, and BYU police also planned to ask ESPN, the national sports broadcast station that showed the game, whether any of its cameras caught the incident.

"(The fan) was in a place where he shouldn't have been," said BYU police Lt. Greg Barber. "Whether the response to that action was appropriate or went beyond will be left up to the courts."

When contacted at his home Tuesday, Perry said he did not want to comment about the incident.

The BYU fan was treated at a first-aid station inside Cougar Stadium for a "large lump on his head," Barber said. Priddis landed several blows with both fists before ushers and police broke up the fight.

The incident completed the most rambunctious year in recent memory for BYU football fans, who stormed the field on several occasions early in the season and were repeatedly warned to stay in their seats or risk arrest. Fans who run onto the field pose a threat to the safety of players, coaches and themselves, BYU officials said.

Priddis' parents, both BYU graduates and residents of Orem, were sitting in south end-zone seats when they saw their son being tackled. They immediately headed toward the site of the incident on the other side of the stadium.

"Our son has a volatile personality," Christopher Priddis said. "I knew he wasn't going to stay on the bottom of the pile very long."

Priddis told his parents that BYU ushers made no attempt to stop the fan from running onto the field. In fact, William Priddis said after the KUTV cameraman on the field showed him the tape, members of the BYU events staff were "cheering and clapping" as the fan tackled the cheerleader. Priddis also said he was hit several times during

the scuffle.

"My son said a number of them held him and somebody hit him twice in the stomach," Christopher Priddis said.

William Priddis, a stocky University of Utah junior, weighs 180 pounds but bench presses 300 pounds, his father said. William Priddis was a wrestler at Mountain View High School in Orem before enrolling at the University of Utah.

BYU police denied that anyone intentionally struck Priddis while trying to separate the combatants.

"It's just a scuffle and they're trying to break it up," Barber said. "If in the attempt to break it up, he got hit in the stomach, that could have happened."

BYU police had "lengthy discussions" directly after the incident about whether they should arrest Priddis, Barber said. But they decided not to, avoiding the spectacle of hauling off a uniformed cheerleader before thousands of fans.

The incident was the topic of talk radio shows along the Wasatch Front Monday, relegating the game itself to the back of most callers' minds. Some Utah fans criticized BYU Athletic Director Val Hale, who ran toward the fight and then had a lively conversation with Utah officials on the sidelines.

"All I did was go over to the cheer squad coach and ask that they not parade the flags in front of the BYU fans," Hale said Monday. "I saw the cheerleader pummeling someone, and I thought it was an usher.

"I thought we were going to have a riot on our hands."

A second BYU fan who tried to get onto the field during the fight was arrested for shoving a Utah fan. The 21-year-old Provo man, not a BYU student, was cited for disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor, and interfering with a police officer, a class B misdemeanor. That man sat with the fan who tackled Priddis after both were arrested.

"He said he got hit in the back of the head a couple of times," Terran Jensen said of the fan. "It didn't seem like he was hit very hard.

"He said he was going on (an LDS Church) mission in a couple of weeks, but he was bummed because now he'd have to postpone it to go to court."

Deseret News staff writer Frank Curreri contributed to this story.