Texas Tech CB reinstated after charges dropped

Nigel Bethel will return to Texas Tech after being cleared of assault charges stemming from a pickup basketball incident last month.

The Red Raiders announced at a news conference Wednesday that the freshman cornerback has been reinstated after a Lubbock County grand jury found no evidence to charge Bethel with felony aggravated assault for punching women’s basketball player Amber Battle on June 28.

Video of the altercation was released Wednesday morning.

"This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners," athletic director Kirby Hocutt said. "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 [Candace] 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."

Bethel was initially stripped of his scholarship and dismissed from the team the next day.

The grand jury sent a letter to Tech officials asking that Bethel be reinstated and allowed to re-join the team.

"I believe that due process in our court system worked today. And I’m frankly proud of that," Bethel’s lawyer, Tray Payne, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Payne reviewed the security camera footage and said Battle struck Bethel first, causing a split-second reaction from Bethel, which he described as "poor."

Battle is suspended from the women’s basketball team for the month of November, when the season begins.

Bethel is a member of the Red Raiders again, but he will be suspended for the first three games of his career.

"I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Texas Tech," Bethel said in a statement. "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."