PROVO -- Brigham Young University has banned for life a man who ran onto the playing field and tackled a male cheerleader during a football game against the University of Utah.
Nineteen-year-old Brandon Perry of Sandy was arrested after the tackle that drew a flurry of punches from Ute cheerleader William M. Priddis. The third-quarter incident overshadowed the Nov. 20 game between the instate rivals, which ended in a Utah victory.In consultation with BYU police and administrators, the Provo City Attorney's Office has decided not to file misdemeanor assault charges against Perry or Priddis. Neither man wanted to press charges, said BYU police Lt. Greg Barber.
But Priddis, who claims to have been punched by another BYU fan during halftime, is considering a lawsuit against BYU for negligence among security guards and ushers. Priddis, whose blows to Perry's head were caught by television news cameras, just wants "everybody to stop thinking he's a terribly violent person," his attorney said.
Perry, reportedly scheduled to enter Provo's LDS Church Missionary Training Center Wednesday, was not cited by police in connection with the incident. BYU officials said his ban from campus would not affect his ability to enter the MTC, although some consider the training center a part of the university's campus.
"We police (the MTC) but the property itself belongs to the church," Barber said.
However, many missionaries-in-training get medical treatment and other services on BYU's campus. If Perry is caught on campus, he could be arrested for trespassing, Barber said.
As one of several hundred people on BYU's list of banned individuals, Perry is forbidden from taking classes at the Provo school or attending sporting events there. He can appeal the ban "after a period of time," Barber said.
Meanwhile, Priddis contends his response to Perry's tackle was justified because the cheerleader didn't know who was tackling him from behind or what weapon that person might have, attorney Crystal Sluyter said.
In addition, Priddis felt BYU security would not assist him because of the earlier blow he had received at the hand of an unidentified BYU fan in his 40s, the attorney said.
That fan was participating in a halftime promotion sponsored by Southwest Airlines in which contestants attempt to throw footballs through a ring. Sluyter said the fan made a comment to Priddis that prompted the cheerleader to pour Gatorade on the ground and on the footballs the contestant was supposed to throw.
An altercation ensued, although stories differ about what happened. Priddis contends the fan punched him in the side of the head, while other fans who witnessed the event said Priddis was the aggressor.
"The contestant said, 'Hey, get away from here,' " said Neal Nickel, a West Valley City resident who witnessed the incident in Cougar Stadium.
"Rather than doing his little prank and leaving, (Priddis) got in the guy's face.
"(Priddis) was out of control."
Sluyter said she did not believe the dare Perry accepted from a friend to tackle Priddis was linked to the halftime incident. But fans in the area believed Perry targeted Priddis because of what he had done to the halftime contestant, Nickel said. BYU officials said even if Priddis did pour his drink on the contestant's footballs, Perry's action was inexcusable.
"Even outrageous behavior on the field does not justify (fans) coming on the field and taking matters into their own hands," Barber said.
BYU officials said any discipline of Priddis would have to be undertaken by the University of Utah, but Sluyter said the school decided no action was necessary. She said Priddis plans to let the matter simmer for a month before making a decision about whether to pursue a civil lawsuit, which would not likely involve Perry or the unnamed, older fan.
"(Priddis) was scared and knew he wouldn't get any help from security," Sluyter said. "I believe the onus is on the security who were there to protect people on the field."