MTSU deciding whether to play tourney

Updated: March 3, 2011, 5:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Middle Tennessee State officials are meeting with the Blue Raiders women's basketball team and will let the squad decide if they want to play in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference tournament after the stabbing death of their teammate.

Eighteen-year-old Shanterrica Madden has been charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing of junior guard Tina Stewart from Memphis. Police found the 21-year-old Stewart stabbed repeatedly inside her apartment. She was taken to Middle Tennessee Medical Center and was later pronounced dead.

[+] EnlargeTina Stewart
Bradley Lambert/MT Athletic CommunicationsTina Stewart, a 21-year-old junior from Memphis, averaged 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 28 games this season.

Athletic director Chris Massaro is meeting individually Thursday with players from both the women's team and the men's team. The Middle Tennessee women are the No. 1 seed from the East and scheduled to play their first game Sunday in Hot Springs, Ark.

The Blue Raiders will be talking with reporters Thursday afternoon before a memorial vigil, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at the university, about 35 miles southeast of Nashville.

Police spokesman Kyle Evans said Madden stabbed Stewart during an argument.

Attorney Joe Brandon told The Associated Press on Thursday that Madden used Stewart's own knife on her during a fight. He did not say what the altercation was about.

"Miss Stewart, who was an athlete, had Miss Madden down on the ground beating on her. Miss Madden has an abrasion above her left eye, looks like perhaps a fingernail. She has swelling to both of her eyes. And during the course of the fight, a knife belonging to Miss Stewart that was in Miss Stewart's possession ended up getting used on Miss Stewart," Brandon said.

An MTSU freshman, Madden is being held without bond on a charge of first-degree murder. Her attorney won a request that Madden be photographed by police to document her injuries as proof of the fight. Brandon said he will file a motion asking that bond be set for Madden. She is scheduled back in Rutherford County General Sessions Court on March 11.

Stewart averaged 5.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 28 games this season for the Blue Raiders (23-6, 14-2).

Middle Tennessee president Sidney McPhee posted a letter on the Blue Raiders' website to the university Thursday.

"I am writing you to convey my sorrow and grief -- not only as the president of our University, but as a father myself -- over the loss of Tina Stewart, a wonderful, talented and vibrant young woman and gifted student athlete," McPhee wrote.

McPhee, who spoke with Stewart's father, said at a news conference Wednesday that Stewart had spent the past three Thanksgivings with his family because she could not return home for the holiday.

"The anguish I feel as a father and a president ... but personally as a father with a daughter about the age of Tina cannot adequately be expressed with words," McPhee said.

Counselors were made available to students on campus, the university said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.