Old says he's being singled out

Updated: October 20, 2003, 10:20 PM ET
Associated Press

RENO, Nev. -- The fan accused of throwing an object that struck UNLV coach John Robinson during a game against Nevada on Oct. 4 apologized Monday, but said he doesn't think his empty beer can hit him.

Kevan Old said in a tearful interview after his arraignment on a misdemeanor battery charge that he does not understand why he's been singled out among dozens of other fans who showered the rival Rebels with empty containers as the team left the field at halftime.

"The public humiliation has been horrible," said the 31-year-old Old, a youth baseball coach and single father of an 11-year-old son.

"Some people at work won't look at me," he said in a courthouse interview with The Associated Press.

Reno Justice Court Judge Edward Dannan entered an innocent plea on Old's behalf after Old declined to enter a plea. The judge told him that prosecutors indicated they would seek "jail time" for the simple battery charge punishable by a maximum of six months in jail.

"I can't go to jail. I'm a single parent," Old told the judge, who set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 18.

Campus police issued a statement identifying Old as the suspect arrested at Mackay Stadium for the alleged attack on Robinson within minutes of the conclusion of UNLV's 16-12 win over Nevada.

Robinson said he was hit in the head by a plastic bottle as he and the team left the field during an emotionally charged game. Police later said they did not know if it was a plastic water bottle, plastic beer bottle or beer can.

Old said outside the courtroom Monday that he got caught up with the hostile crowd and threw an empty aluminum beer can in the air, demonstrating a toss over his head like a basketball hook shot.

"All of a sudden they were pointing at me," he told the AP.

"I don't even know whether it was me [that hit Robinson]. I don't think it was. I was among hundreds," he said.

"They make it sound like I was taking aim at him. I just went along with the crowd. Everyone was booing. There was no intention at all. I just wasn't thinking. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Tammy Riggs, the Washoe County deputy district attorney handling the case, said Old's statements were "not consistent with the police report."

"We had witnesses who came forward. That is the reason Mr. Old was the one who was arrested," said Riggs, who confirmed prosecutors are seeking jail time.

Robinson said after the game that whoever threw the item "should go to jail." He's had no further comment, UNLV spokesman Mark Wallington said Monday.

Old described himself as a local laborer and longtime Wolf Pack fan who was born and raised in Reno. He said he's been singled out unfairly as a suspected criminal assailant.

"It's not the nature of my character. I don't condone this at all. I don't condone any unsportsmanlike conduct. I coach baseball. I haven't been in any violent trouble in my life," Old said.

Old said he might have given the mistaken impression he was admitting the attack on Robinson when he told local television stations earlier he was sorry for the incident.

"When I said I didn't want to bring any embarrassment, it sounded like I was admitting guilt. I'm not admitting guilt but I am sorry for my actions," he said.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press