Nigel Bethel II was reinstated to the Texas Tech football team Wednesday.
Bethel, as part of his punishment for an altercation with Lady Raider Amber Battle, will miss the first three games (25 percent) of his first season at Tech if he chooses to return to the university.
Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt expects Bethel to report to the team in August.
“Yes, Kliff (Kingsbury) and I both talked to Nigel today and had an opportunity to share with him the situation and the stipulations if he chose to come back and be a part of this program and this university,” Hocutt said. “He accepted it.”
Kingsbury, the Red Raiders football coach, said Bethel’s reinstatement was not influenced by Tuesday’s grand jury decision not to indict the freshman cornerback over the altercation with Battle on June 28.
Bethel was dismissed from the team 24 hours after the incident that took place at the Tech student recreation center.
“It’s been an ongoing process internally,” Kingsbury said. “Just trying to get to what we felt was the best answer. There’s not a winner in this deal. It’s a bad situation all the way around. This is what we’ve got.”
Kingsbury said he and the athletic department are still sorting through when or if Bethel will return to the team. When Bethel signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) in February, that guaranteed an athletic scholarship at Tech. Because he was never released from his NLI, his athletic scholarship is still in place.
After the grand jury decision, Bethel took to Twitter, saying, “Texas Tech is my home and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
He hoped he could put the incident behind him and return to Tech.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Texas Tech,” Bethel said in a Tech news release Wednesday. “I take full responsibility for my actions and I would like to let everyone know that this won’t happen again.”
He went on to say this behavior is not who he is and that it won’t happen again.
“I want to thank Amber Battle for accepting my apology and for coming forward to say that I deserved a second chance,” Bethel said. “ 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 guard for Tech’s women’s basketball team, has been suspended for the month of November, which is also 25 percent of her season.
Lady Raiders basketball coach Candi Whitaker said Battle felt the initial dismissal of Bethel wasn’t “fair” because two people were involved in the incident.
“It’s been an ongoing thing that we’ve definitely looked at it at all angles and definitely tried to find the best solution for each student athlete and Texas Tech,” Whitaker said. “I think we’ve kept that in mind at every turn.”
Battle, who suffered a broken bone in her face, is still recovering.
“I’m relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances,” Battle said in the news release. “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.”
A Lubbock County grand jury found no evidence to charge Bethel with a felony count of aggravated assault stemming from the fight with Battle, Bethel’s attorney said in a news conference Tuesday.
Lubbock attorney Tray Payne, who is representing Bethel, said his client is relieved he no longer faces the pending criminal charge. Additionally, the grand jury sent a letter to Tech officials asking Bethel be reinstated to the football team. Kingsbury said the decision to reinstate Bethel was not influenced by the grand jury’s letter.
(WreckEm247 reporter Daniel Paulling contributed to this story.)
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