Texas Tech Reinstates Nigel Bethel After Punching Incident

Published 07/16 2014 04:45PM

Updated 07/16 2014 10:34PM

LUBBOCK, TX – Texas Tech University on Wednesday announced that Nigel Bethel II has been reinstated to the football team.  He had been dismissed from the team in late June after he was accused of punching Lady Raider basketball player Amber Battle in the face.  He will be sanctioned (or suspended) for three football games.

Head Football Coach Kliff Kingsbury said, “He’s very remorseful.  He knows what he did was wrong,”

“At the same time he wants to be at Texas Tech,” Kingsbury said.  “I think each decision we made along the way was the correct one.”

Lady Raiders Head Coach Candi Whitaker said she spoke to Battle who did not want to see Bethel permanently removed from the team.  

Whitaker said, “She expressed in great detail to me her remorse … and that she felt that it wasn’t fair.” 

Both Kingsburry and Whitaker said there are no new rules for his student athletes.  

The reinstatement announcement came just a day after Lubbock grand jury opted to not indict Bethel on charges of aggravated assault. The same grand jury then wrote a letter to Tech Athletics, encouraging them to put Bethel back on the team. While it may have seem like Tech took that letter to heart, Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt says their decision to reinstate was completely independent.

"Everybody's entitled to their opinion, and the grand jury members were certainly entitled to that," he says. "But did that particular letter have any influence on our decision? No."

Hocutt adds that their decision was based on a variety of factors, most importantly that they felt that giving Bethel the chance was a choice consistent with the university's mission statement. He also mentioned that everyone within the administration had been supportive of all decisions made.

Texas Tech issued the following statement late Wednesday afternoon: 

Freshman defensive back Nigel Bethel has been reinstated to the Texas Tech Football program after being initially dismissed from the team for his role in an incident at the Texas Tech Student Recreation Center on June 28.

“This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners,” said Kirby Hocutt, Director of Athletics.  “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.” 

The stipulations of his reinstatement call for him to miss 25 percent (three games) of his first season.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Texas Tech,” said Bethel.  “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.”


Battle, a senior on the women’s basketball team, has been suspended for the month of November (25 percent of the season) for her role in the incident with Bethel.

“I’m relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances,” said Battle.  “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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