Cincy, Xavier suspend eight for brawl
Gates suspended six games for throwing punches vs. Xavier
CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates got a six-game suspension on Sunday for throwing punches at No. 8 Xavier, and seven other players were disciplined for their roles in a brawl that ended the annual crosstown rivalry game.
Four Bearcats and four Musketeers were suspended in all. Three Cincinnati players got six-game suspensions, the longest of those handed out.
Gates punched Xavier’s Kenny Frease in the face, causing a nasty gash below his left eye, and hit at least one other Musketeer during the fracas on Saturday, which prompted the referees to call Xavier’s 76-53 win with 9.4 seconds left.
The Bearcats also gave Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis six-game suspensions. Ge’Lawn Guyn was suspended for one game.
Xavier suspended point guard Tu Holloway for one game, guard Mark Lyons for two, and Dez Wells and Landen Amos for four games each.
The brawl left both programs with a black eye, prompting repeated apologies by both schools.
It started in the closing seconds when Holloway talked to the Cincinnati bench. Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick had said during the week leading up to the game that Holloway wasn’t good enough to start for the Bearcats.
Holloway wanted the last word, and started talking to coaches and players on the Cincinnati bench with the clock stopped at 9.4 seconds. Guyn was standing by Holloway and pushed him in the face. Wells responded by pushing down Guyn. Gates was holding the ball and threw it at Holloway’s head, prompting both benches to clear.
As the fight wound down, Gates stood by the Cincinnati bench with fists raised in a boxing pose.
The suspensions will affect only one Big East game, the Bearcats’ league opener at Pittsburgh on Jan. 1.
“We want to deal with this in a prompt and direct manner and send the message that we will not tolerate this from those who have the privilege of representing the University of Cincinnati,” athletics director Whit Babcock said in a statement.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said after the game that he would decide whether anybody should be kicked off the team for their actions. He also said he took the players’ jerseys away to make the point that their conduct was unacceptable.
Babcock, who was hired from Missouri in October, apologized for the fracas.
“We hold our student-athletes to a very high standard and take very seriously the role that our entire department plays in reflecting the overall image of this great university,” Babcock said. “We will continue to work diligently to represent the Bearcat family and the Cincinnati community in a first-class manner. There will be zero tolerance for a repeat of this behavior.”
Gates is Cincinnati’s top frontcourt player. He’ll miss games against Wright State, Radford, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Chicago State, Oklahoma and the Bearcats’ Big East opener at Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati consulted with the Big East over the penalties.
“The very unfortunate events that occurred in the final seconds of Saturday’s Cincinnati-Xavier basketball game have no place within intercollegiate athletics,” Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said. “The University of Cincinnati has responded with swift, expeditious and appropriate action, which the Big East Conference fully supports.”
Xavier (8-0) held a news conference to announce its penalties, which will extend through the Musketeers’ appearance at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over Christmas. They are off next week for finals, and resume on Sunday at home against Oral Roberts.
The following three games are in Hawaii.
“We accept full responsibility for our part in the events that occurred at the end of our game yesterday,” said Mike Bobinski, the director of athletics. “It was both embarrassing and disappointing and clearly did not reflect the standards of behavior we expect from our student-athletes. We resolve to do whatever is necessary to prevent an incident like this from occurring in the future.
“Additionally, we regret the poorly chosen words our student-athletes used in the postgame press conference and have addressed the matter with them.”
After the game, Holloway said the Musketeers have “a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room—not thugs, but tough guys on the court.”