Texas Tech incoming freshman Nigel Bethel II, who was dismissed from the program after punching a women’s basketball player, has been reinstated, according to a release by the school.
Bethel was playing in a pickup basketball game with Amber Battle when the two went up for a rebound. Battle grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Bethel. Battle pushed Bethel and he responded by throwing a punch that broke Battle cheekbone.
A surveillance camera in the gym took the following video:
"This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners," athletic director said Kirby Hocutt said in a statement. "Every decision related to this case has been the right one at that particular time based upon our principles, student-athlete code of conduct and team rules. As I continued to work with Coach Kingsbury and Coach Whitaker, we looked at the totality of the situation and have arrived at this decision. Two talented young people made a mistake, have shown remorse and learned some very valuable life lessons."
After the incident, police were called and the matter went to a grand jury, which, on Tuesday, found no probable cause for assault charges, according to Bethel’s lawyer Tray Payne.
Lubbock attorney Tray Payne told ESPN.com that the charges against Bethel were dropped after a grand jury found there was no evidence to substantiate assault nor probable cause to pursue charges.
“This is not what it was made out to be,” Payne said. “He’s a good kid with no criminal history, and this was out of character.”
Once the charges were dropped, Bethel, a cornerback from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami and the Red Raiders’ highest rated recruit, according to Rivals.com, held out hope to return to Texas Tech.
The grand jury also thought Bethel should be reinstated and issued a letter to Payne stating as much.
"We believe he was unduly and prematurely punished. This was an unfortunate incident in a pick-up basketball game. This is a matter that should not result in criminal charges for either party.
“Any assault does deserve immediate action, however, please ensure all testimonies, evidence and circumstances are reviewed prior to taking action which may forever alter a person’s future.
“We desire to see Mr. Bethel’s scholarship re-instated. If he is re-instated, it is our belief that his consequences should not be greater than those of Ms. Battle. If he is not re-instated, a public exoneration of his character on the part of Texas Tech University should be forthcoming, since Mr. Bethel’s future opportunities for an education as well as an athletic career have been jeopardized.”
Bethel will miss the first three games of his first season as part of his reinstatement. Battle, a senior on the women's basketball team, was suspended for the month of November after admitting that she started the altercation.
"I'm relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances," Battle said in a statement. "We were both at fault in this situation and I believe our punishment should be equal. This is a good opportunity for us to learn from our mistakes and I think we both have. Hopefully now we can move forward and focus on helping our teams compete at the highest level."
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