CLEVELAND — Four Kent State men's basketball players have been disciplined after a video was posted to social media ahead of the MAC Championship final between the Golden Flashes and rival Akron Zips, according to the Mid-American Conference.
The video, posted to junior DJ Johnson's Snapchat, shows Kent State players in the locker room after their win over Ohio University Friday night, dancing and singing "**** Akron" before Johnson goes on to call out specific Akron players that he said he did not like, including sophomore Ali Ali.
Johnson and the other players come into the shot and while also calling out Ali and the Zips, and flash their middle fingers to the camera.
Kent State issued a statement regarding the video, saying that they were aware of its circulation and that the "behavior in the video does not reflect the core values of Kent State, nor does it live up to the standards we expect of out student-athletes."
The university said it would be reviewing the incident and that "appropriate action" would be taken, which "may include the suspension of players."
Kent State officials then worked with the MAC to address the matter, and the conference later announced the disciplinary actions being taken against four Kent State players for their actions in the video.
Johnson, whose social media the video was posted to, has been suspended indefinitely.
Additionally, the MAC announced that junior Malique Jacobs, freshman Cli'Ron Hornbeak, and freshman Julius Rollins will not play in the first half of Saturday night's MAC Championship final against Akron.
Jacobs' absence for the first half of the game is a particularly big hit to the Golden Flashes. In their win over the Bobcats Friday night, Jacobs put up a double-double, scoring 19 with 10 rebounds, in addition to five assists and two steals.
"I'm disappointment this occurred," said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher. "This does not represent the values of Kent State or the Mid-American Conference. However, I commend the leadership of Kent State for being proactive in addressing this matter and collaborating with my office to bring this situation to resolution."
Saturday's actions show the heated nature of the Kent State-Akron rivalry that is being put to the ultimate test in the MAC finals as both teams make their first appearance in the big game since 2017 when they faced each other. Kent State won that matchup, with Akron's last MAC Championship win coming in 2013.
The stakes are high for both the Golden Flashes and Zips as a win Saturday night will send the victor into the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament via an automatic bid.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.