- Cincinnati players apologize for fight with Xavier, say they are "embarrassed"
- Cincinnati players will get anger management counseling, coach says
- Four students from each school have been suspended
Four University of Cincinnati basketball players suspended for their involvement in a nationally televised brawl between the Bearcats and their crosstown rivals at Xavier University apologized Monday to their fans and their community and said they were "embarrassed" by their actions.
Athletic Director Whit Babcock and Coach Mick Cronin also apologized. They said the team will work "diligently" to regain the respect and trust of the university.
Senior Yancy Gates, who threw the punch that landed Xavier player Kenny Frease on the floor with blood streaming from his left eye, broke down during the press conference. Gates, a Cincinnati native and a top forward for the Berarcats, thanked the university and Cronin for their support and a second chance.
"It could've been over for me," Gates said. "The actions that I displayed are not what I'm about."
Gates, Octavius Ellis and Cheikh Mbodj, have been suspended for six games. Ge'Lawn Guyn is suspended for one game.
Xavier suspended Dezmine Wells and Landen Amos for four games and Mark Lyons for two, the school said in a statement. Tu Holloway, a senior for the Musketeers who said defiantly in the post-game press conference that "we got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room," was given a one-game suspension. Holloway recanted his comments the next day and apologized for the fight.
Earlier on Monday, Hamilton County (Ohio) Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters said his office will "review this matter to determine whether any criminal charges are appropriate."
Cronin said he and his team had just heard about the state's investigation before coming to the press conference, but he fully supported Deters and "anything we are asked to do, we will comply with."
The team is now focused on the future, which for suspended players will include anger management counseling and community service.
"We need to repair our reputation and our relationship with the university," Cronin told reporters.
Babcock, who was hired by the university in October, said he was "struck by the pride and love people have for this school," and he expects more of his players.
The university "will not tolerate this from those who have the privilege of representing the University of Cincinnati," Babcock said.
Cronin has instructed his players not to speak to or respond to any Xavier players during this "cooling off period."
"These guys are good people, " said Cronin, "who for a few seconds made some really bad decisions."
No one from Xavier has commented on the fight since Sunday.
The crosstown rivalry between the Cincinnati colleges has gone on for years and is well known in the state of Ohio and throughout much of the Midwest. Saturday's brawl occurred near the end of the game, which Xavier won 76-53.
Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati are less than 5 miles apart.