Nwigwe charged with assault for fight

Updated: March 10, 2009, 4:26 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- A Robert Morris University basketball player was charged with simple assault after police investigated reports of a weekend fight in Pittsburgh, but the school says he can still play in Wednesday's Northeast Conference championship game.

Mezie Nwigwe, a junior guard and the team's leading scorer off the bench, has been mailed a court summons for a charge of simple assault, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

Nwigwe was with three other Robert Morris players -- Jeremy Chappell, Rob Robinson and Velton Jones -- on the city's South Side when police responded to a report of a fight around 2:20 a.m. on Saturday.

Two off-duty officers called 911 after two men reported minor injuries after fighting with one of the players, and Nwigwe was identified when Chappell's car was stopped a short time later, police said.

Nwigwe was not arrested, and other players weren't charged "because there was no further police action taken and they were not identified as being part of the incident," Richard said.

Robert Morris Athletic Director Craig Coleman issued a statement saying Nwigwe remains "innocent until proven otherwise" and "he will be permitted to participate in campus activities" -- including the tournament championship game -- until the Office of Student Life finishes its own investigation.

"Mezie is a student in good standing at Robert Morris University who has no record of student misconduct," Coleman said. "He will cooperate with any further investigation into this matter by both campus authorities as well as local police."

Simple assault is a misdemeanor, but the degree of the offense is determined by whether it was part of a mutual fight or an attack. Richard said Nwigwe, of Hyattsville, Md., is charged with the least serious version of the offense, for fighting, which carries a maximum of a year in jail.

Robert Morris (23-10) hosts Mount St. Mary's, Md. (19-12) in the Northeast Conference championship game Wednesday night.

This is the first time in nine seasons that Robert Morris has advanced to the tournament championship game, with the winner qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

Nwigwe, a 6-foot-4 guard, has averaged 6.5 points per game this season.

A court date will be set on the assault charge after Nwigwe receives and responds to the summons.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press