I really was torn. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. In fact, I was downright confused because I had a ton of conflicting ideas about what had happened in the past and trying to make all of those different thoughts fit into this situation.
Just to recap, Nigel Bethel, II, was originally dismissed from the Texas Tech football team for striking Amber Battle during a pick-up basketball game. Bethel's punishment was a dismissal from the team while Battle's punishment was a month-long suspension in November. Battle admitted that she instigated the incident:
"During a pickup basketball game on June 28, I was involved in an incident with Texas Tech football player Nigel Bethel," Battle said. "I initiated the first contact and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want to take this time to apologize to Nigel, the Texas Tech community, my teammates, coaches and fans. Nothing I can say can truly repair the harm I have already caused. I did not represent the Double T like I am supposed to and I promise to hold myself to a higher standard from here on."
Earlier this week, a Lubbock grand jury cleared Bethel of any charges and wrote a letter to Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt requesting that Bethel be reinstated:
"We believe he was unduly and prematurely punished. This was an unfortunate incident in a pick-up basketball game. This is a matter that should not result in criminal charges for either party.
"Any assault does deserve immediate action, however, please ensure all testimonies, evidence and circumstances are reviewed prior to taking action which may forever alter a person's future.
"We desire to see Mr. Bethel's scholarship re-instated. If he is re-instated, it is our belief that his consequences should not be greater than those of Ms. Battle. If he is not re-instated, a public exoneration of his character on the part of Texas Tech University should be forthcoming, since Mr. Bethel's future opportunities for an education as well as an athletic career have been jeopardized."
The original explanation was that Texas Tech didn't support violence against women and that was pretty much the extent of that initial statement. If anyone is wondering if there is any sort written policy, there's probably not one, it's probably a stance more than anything else.
This statement from Hocutt is pretty clear, emphasis mine:
"This is an unfortunate situation with a unique set of circumstances and there are no winners," said Kirby Hocutt, Director of Athletics. "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 Kingsbury and Coach 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."
Now, I think this is where some of you may not agree with Hocutt. He could have just suspended Bethel indefinitely, but you'll have to trust me when I tell you that Hocutt really doesn't like making rash decisions. He is methodical and careful about what he says. I have a difficult time thinking that Hocutt made a decision that wasn't painful to make, one that wasn't tough. I would have to imagine that this was not a yelling and screaming event with Bethel, but one that was difficult for all parties involved. The only reason why is because maybe after a week or so of cooling off, the parties made it clear that things could be different. Battle, Bethel and Hocutt all collectively worked towards a solution that worked for everyone and perhaps the most important part of this process was for Bethel to have those charges dismissed. Let's get cleared of criminal charges.
And remember just a day ago, the Lubbock grand jury said took the time to write a letter to reinstate Bethel. Something that was supposedly a rare occurrence. Perhaps this was not coincidental.
And Bethel acknowledges that he reacted in an improper way:
"I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to Texas Tech," said Bethel. "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."
And Battle didn't think that the punishment Bethel received should have been any different than his punishment:
"I'm relieved that Nigel is receiving a second chance because I believe in second chances," said Battle. "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."
I don't know how this really played out, but I would imagine that you had consent from all parties involved in this incident. Candace Whitaker and Amber Battle, I'm thinking had to agree that this wasn't just a decision for Hocutt and Kingsbury to make in a vacuum, but rather a decision that Whitaker, Battle, Kingsbury and Hocutt all had to make and agree that the initial punishment was not equitable.
I haven't had any real answers in any of this. There are just too many different circumstances for this to be a simplistic decision on my end, but I've always had a great sense of comfort knowing that whatever happened, Hocutt would make the right decision. Even if there are bumps in the road or perhaps criticisms about the process he took, I never really had a doubt that the right decision would arrive. In my mind, there was no doubt that no matter how you deal with this situation, there would be one side or another criticizing Hocutt's moves. There were too many facets to this situation for the answer to be in some sort of handbook.
As head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, this seemed to be a situation where the process was on-going:
"I don't know fair or not, like I said, this is what we felt was the best answer at this time," said Kingsbury, the Red Raiders' second-year coach. "Throughout this process, we've made decisions based on information we had and as more information came forth we continued to evaluate and meet and think about it and ended up here."
"It's been an ongoing process internally. Just trying to get to what we felt was the best answer," Kingsbury said. "There's not a winner in this deal. It's a bad situation all the way around. This is what we've got. ... We've been in communication throughout trying to get to a spot where we all felt comfortable and this is where we're at."
I think that's every bit of the truth.