WLU A.D. arrested following tourney

CHARLESTON – West Liberty University Athletic Director James Watson and two student-athletes are free on bond today after they were arrested Saturday night following a conference championship victory by the men’s basketball team.

Watson, 66, was arraigned by a Kanawha County magistrate on charges of obstructing and battery on an officer, both misdemeanors. He was released Sunday morning from the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston after posting $2,000 bond.

In a statement released Sunday, West Liberty University President Robin Capehart offered his full support of Watson.

“Jim Watson is a dignified, well-respected gentleman who has been nationally recognized as an athletics administrator during four decades of dedicated service. West Liberty University, and I personally, fully support Jim. Based on the account of more than two dozen eyewitnesses to whom I’ve spoken, we look forward to the judicial process with regard to this matter,” the statement reads.

Tyler Tucci, 22, a member of the Hilltoppers football team, and Gabrielle Davis, 21, a member of the volleyball team, were also arrested and charged with obstructing. They were both released on personal recognizance.

Watson’s son, Brian Watson, 28, was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and fleeing on foot. He was released after posting $4,000 bond Sunday morning.

The arrests came after Charleston police responded to a disturbance call around 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the Embassy Suites, where the basketball team was staying. No other details about the arrest were made available on Sunday.

Prior to the arrests on Saturday, the No. 1 ranked Hilltoppers won their third straight West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship at the Charleston Civic Center.

James Watson, who was hired as the school’s baseball coach and athletic trainer in 1971, is in his 23rd year as athletic director.