A Western State Conference appeals board decided by unanimous voice vote Wednesday to reduce sanctions levied against the Harbor College football program.
Harbor, which was placed on two years probation Friday for its role in a brawl that followed a Sept. 25 game against Pierce in Wilmington, had its probation reduced to one year.
The board, which consists of administrators from each of the 12 WSC schools, made its decision during a meeting in Moorpark. Pierce and Harbor were not allowed to vote.
"They said we still need to do all of the other things that we were asked in the initial decision and then at the end of the year we are to write a disciplinary report and tell them what we've done," said Charlie Bossler, Harbor's athletic administrator. "If we fail to do that to their satisfaction, the additional year will be reinstated."
Harbor's football program was banned from postseason play for this year and next and ordered to file a weekly report to the conference on the behavior of its staff and students at games. The school also was instructed to have its athletic director or athletic administrator present at all football games, and the players were told they will be suspended if ejected from a game for verbal or physical abuse.
Bossler also said WSC Commissioner Aviva Kamin is weighing additional sanctions against Pierce, which had its football program placed on supervisory probation in the initial ruling. The Brahmas remain eligible for postseason play.
"The commissioner said there will be additional sanctions against Pierce, but she hasn't decided at this point what they will be," Bossler said. "But we expect her decision shortly."
Harbor Athletic Director Jim O'Brien said any additional sanctions against Pierce would come as a result of information that has been received by Kamin since her initial ruling.
Calls made to Kamin's office Wednesday were not returned.
Harbor officials said Kamin's ruling was too harsh and threatened the future of the program. Before Kamin made her ruling, the school had decided to suspend the program for a week, forfeiting Saturday's game against West Los Angeles, and indefinitely suspended four players who were involved in the incident.
"We felt we hadn't been treated fairly," Bossler said. "I know of no other (community) college that took its own action, cooperated fully and then got two years of sanctions on top of that."
He said Wednesday's vote justifies feelings of Harbor officials, who contend both schools should be held accountable.
Pierce's report to the WSC argued otherwise.
"Their report basically said that their entire coaching staff was beyond reproach and we knew that wasn't the case," Bossler said. "From the onset, I got the idea (our) kids weren't out there shadow-boxing. There were a lot of people from both sides involved."
Bossler said Harbor does not plan to appeal the reduced penalty, although O'Brien remains upset about the team being banned from postseason play for one season.
"I know if I had the choice between additional sanctions against Pierce or going to a bowl game, I'd want to go to a bowl game," O'Brien said.
O'Brien said he is not particularly pushing for additional sanctions against Pierce.
"My main concern is that we take care of our ship and our players and get fair treatment," he said.
The Los Angeles Police Department said it does not plan to file additional charges stemming from the brawl. Harbor freshman wide receiver Dion Mills was previously charged with one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly hitting a Pierce coach on the head with an aluminum crutch. Mills, 19, will be arraigned on Oct. 20 in San Pedro Municipal Court.