ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The owner of the Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs, whose players allegedly disrupted a Delta Airlines flight after a basketball tournament loss, will investigate the problem and dismiss the offending team members.
A Delta pilot landed the Kansas-to-Allentown Flight 882 Saturday night in Harrisburg and refused to continue until all 10 players on the plane were removed.
Three passengers told The (Allentown) Morning Call that three or four players were disruptive. The passengers, who asked not to be identified, said the players uttered profanities to the flight attendants, refused to take their seats on takeoff and argued when drinks were cut off as the plane approached Harrisburg.
"We apparently have some bad eggs," the team's majority owner, John Walson Jr., said. "They will be found out, dismissed from the team and banned from playing in the USBL."
A Delta spokesman said the airline does not plan to seek criminal charges, and the Federal Aviation Administration said it no longer is investigating. However, the FBI is looking into the matter.
The ValleyDawgs had lost a playoff game to the Oklahoma Storm 109-105 in Kansas and were returning home when the situation occurred. The team is coached by former Philadelphia 76er Darryl Dawkins, but Dawkins had stayed behind to coach a league All-Star game, the newspaper said.
The team had won the USBL's Northern Division championship before losing in Kansas.
With the season over, the players became free agents, which may make it difficult to discipline those involved in causing trouble, Walson said. He also said that it was unfair to lump all the team members together when most were sleeping on the flight.
"This is not the team's fault, it's the players involved," Walson said. "And they will be dealt with firmly."
He said he will prohibit team members from drinking alcohol on future flights.
Several passengers complained about the flight to both the pilot and ticket counter agents at Harrisburg and Lehigh Valley International Airport, where the flight arrived early Sunday.
"Their actions were shameful," one passenger said. "They had no respect for authority, zero."
The players allegedly refused to take their seats for takeoff, delaying the Boeing 727's departure for 5-10 minutes, according to passengers and the airline.
"Three players were very rowdy during the whole trip," said a passenger who was traveling with his wife. "They were trying to bait the stewardesses."