GRIFFITH forward Andrew Cullen has declared he will fight his six-month ban from playing or coaching that threatens to throw the Demons’ State league season into chaos.
Cullen was hit with the massive suspension for his part in a fight between himself and Dillon Bartter during a mid-week game as part of the local competition.
Under Griffith basketball rules any player ejected from a game must serve an automatic one-game suspension, but local officials deemed the fight between Cullen and Bartter to be serious enough to warrant an independent judiciary chaired by NSW Basketball.
From the evidence provided, the state body handed Bartter a suspension from all games for 10 weeks while Cullen was slapped with 26 weeks.
Cullen was offered that if he sat out the Demons’ clash against the Wagga Heat on June 2, it would look be looked upon favourably by the judiciary, however, he chose to take to the court.
Cullen claims he did not get a reason why his punishment was 16 weeks more than Bartter and said he will fight the suspension as he does not believe he is guilty of the charges levelled at him.
“I’m seeking legal advice to see what grounds I have, we’re in a belief that either I get zero or the suspension can stand, because 10 weeks is just as bad,” Cullen told The Area News.
“We’ve got to submit our appeal within 14 days and an ASAP will be put on it because we need to know because I have to organise the team to play next weekend.
“So basically we want it reduced to zero or don’t worry about it, because if they offer me a matching ban (to Bartter) but that doesn’t do me any favours as well.
“I didn’t deny that I did not approach this guy (Bartter) in a way, they (Basketball NSW) said I struck him and they said even if you didn’t then you’ve pushed him.
“I don’t actually remember because I got a head knock before it, so basically I plead not guilty because I felt I did not do what they are accusing me of.”
If the punishment stands at its current length it will turn the Demons’ season on its head as Cullen will also be banned from coaching the side from the sidelines, under threat of an additional five weeks to his sentence per game coached.
Griffith Basketball president Damien Curry hoped the matter can be sorted quickly, and expected it to be so in the next week.
However, Curry said the size of the punishments should sound a warning to other players, officials and supporters of the game that if they intend to act in an antisocial manner they will be held accountable for their actions.
“It’s sending a strong message and it’s providing support for our referees that we’re not going to leave them high and dry,” Curry said.
“And it’s also sending a big strong message that we’re not going to tolerate this type of thing in our sport.”