Published December 11, 2011
CINCINNATI – Cincinnati forward Yancy Gates got a six-game suspension on Sunday for throwing punches during a brawl with No. 8 Xavier in the closing minute of their annual crosstown rivalry game.
Gates punched Xavier's Kenny Frease in the face, causing a nasty gash below his left eye, and hit at least one other Musketeer during the fracas on Saturday, which prompted the referees to call Xavier's 76-53 win with 9.4 seconds left.
As the fight wound down, Gates stood by the Cincinnati bench with fists raised in a boxing pose.
The Bearcats also gave Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis six-game suspensions. Ge'Lawn Guyn was suspended for one game.
The suspensions will affect only one Big East game, the Bearcats' league opener at Pittsburgh on Jan. 1.
Xavier planned to announce its discipline later in the day. Freshman Dez Wells threw a punch and is expected to be suspended.
"We want to deal with this in a prompt and direct manner and send the message that we will not tolerate this from those who have the privilege of representing the University of Cincinnati," athletics director Whit Babcock said.
The annual rivalry game features trash talking, technical fouls and occasional shoving. The first full-scale brawl was sparked when Xavier senior guard Tu Holloway talked to the Cincinnati bench in the closing seconds.
Leading up to the game, Cincinnati's Sean Kilpatrick said that Holloway wouldn't start if he played for the Bearcats. Holloway took exception, and wanted to get the final word in the closing seconds.
Guyn shoved Holloway in the face as he talked to the Cincinnati bench, prompting Wells to shove Guyn to the ground. Gates had the ball and threw it at Holloway, hitting him in the head. That prompted both benches to clear.
Gates punched Frease in the face, knocking the 7-foot center to the ground. Mbodj kicked Frease while he was on his knees. Ellis went after a Xavier player.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said after the game that he would decide whether anybody should be kicked off the team for their actions. He also said he took the players' jerseys away to make the point that their conduct was unacceptable.
Babcock, who was hired from Missouri in October, apologized again for the fracas.
"We hold our student-athletes to a very high standard and take very seriously the role that our entire department plays in reflecting the overall image of this great university," Babcock said. "We will continue to work diligently to represent the Bearcat family and the Cincinnati community in a first-class manner. There will be zero tolerance for a repeat of this behavior."
Gates is Cincinnati's top frontcourt player. He'll miss games against Wright State, Radford, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Chicago State, Oklahoma and the Bearcats' Big East opener at Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati consulted with the Big East over the penalties.
"The very unfortunate events that occurred in the final seconds of Saturday's Cincinnati-Xavier basketball game have no place within intercollegiate athletics," Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said. "The University of Cincinnati has responded with swift, expeditious and appropriate action, which the Big East Conference fully supports."