Texas Tech reinstates Nigel Bethel II
Nigel Bethel II has been reinstated by Texas Tech, less than three weeks after he was dismissed for punching Red Raiders women's basketball player Amber Battle.
The freshman cornerback from Miami will return to Lubbock, Texas, and rejoin the program but will be suspended for Texas Tech's first three games, the school announced Wednesday.
"This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners," Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a 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."
Bethel's suspension for 25 percent of the season is equal to the one-month suspension Battle previously received for all TTU games in the month of November.
"I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Texas Tech," Bethel said in a statement released by the school. "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."
Bethel will not face assault charges for the incident after a grand jury cleared him on Tuesday. The grand jury also submitted a letter to Hocutt expressing a "desire to see Mr. Bethel's scholarship reinstated."
During an on-campus pickup basketball game on June 28, Bethel hit Battle, the Red Raiders' leading scorer last season, in the face in retaliation after she hit him following a foul.
Bethel was dismissed from the program the next day. Texas Tech released security video of the fight on Wednesday.
"I'm relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances," Battle said in a statement. "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."
Lubbock attorney Tray Payne, who represented Bethel, said he was satisfied by the school's decision.
"I believe in second chances," Payne said. "I don't necessarily believe in third and fourth chances, but I believe in second chances and Texas Tech does too."
Bethel was the Red Raiders' highest-rated recruit in their 2014 class and had joined the program in June.
"I'm really excited," Bethel told ESPN.com about his reinstatement. "I feel like Texas Tech is my only home."