(Reuters) - The WNBA on Friday suspended married all-stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson for conduct detrimental to the league after they were arrested in connection with a fight between them at their Phoenix-area home just weeks before their wedding.
Griner, a center with the Phoenix Mercury, pleaded guilty in Goodyear City Court last month to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and was required to complete a 26-week domestic violence course. The case involving Johnson, a Tulsa Shock forward, is still pending.
“The WNBA takes all acts of violence extremely seriously. It is our strong belief that violence has absolutely no place in society, in sports or in this league,” WNBA President Laurel Richie said in a statement announcing that the two players would be suspended without pay for seven regular season games.
The WNBA season begins June 5.
The action comes as American sports leagues toughen their discipline against players involved in domestic violence incidents.
The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Griner and 6-foot-3 (1.91 meter) Johnson were arrested last month after authorities received a 911 emergency call about a fight between them. They were engaged at the time and have since gotten married.
“Our athletes represent the WNBA, and they all must abide by the league’s standards of conduct,” Richie said. “In this case, Brittney and Glory failed to do so, and that is unacceptable.”
Richie said they engaged in conduct “detrimental to the best interests of the WNBA.” Richie said the league conducted its own investigation into the incident and her statement provided details of the fight.
Richie said the altercation began ”when Glory pushed Brittney in the shoulder and Brittney pushed Glory in the back of the neck, and “escalated to include wrestling, punches and the throwing and swinging of various objects.”
Griner received a bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist, while Johnson sustained a scratch above her lip and was diagnosed with a concussion, Richie said.
Richie said both women will be required to attend individual counseling sessions “with a counselor satisfactory to the WNBA.”
“The WNBA will continue to focus intently on the issue of domestic violence,” Richie said.
The NFL has come under close scrutiny for its handling of discipline against players involved in domestic violence incidents including Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham