Texas Tech freshman defensive back Nigel Bethel has been reinstated to the football program, officials announced Wednesday. Bethel had been dismissed from the team for his role in a fight with guard Amber Battle at the university’s recreation center.
Battle said in a statement that she “initiated first contact” in the fight with freshman Bethel during a pickup basketball game in June. Bethel then responded and, according to a police report, caused serious bodily injury with “hands, fists, feet, etc.”
Bethel is now suspended for the first three games of the season. Battle, a senior on the women’s basketball team, is suspended for the month of November.
“This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners,” athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a written 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 (Kliff) Kingsbury and coach (Candi) 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.”
Said Bethel in the statement: “I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Texas Tech. I take full responsibility for my actions and I would like to let everyone know that this won’t happen again. It’s not who I am and I am sorry for the embarrassment this has caused. I want to thank Amber Battle for accepting my apology and for coming forward to say that I deserved a second chance. I would like to thank everyone at Texas Tech, including the coaches, for believing in me and giving me a second chance to show my ability and to receive an education from Texas Tech.”
Said Battle: “I’m relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances. 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.”