CINCINNATI – A prosecutor said Wednesday he has decided against filing criminal charges in an on-court brawl involving University of Cincinnati and Xavier basketball players.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he made the decision following an investigation that included review of films and interviews with the two teams' coaches and some players and witnesses. He also said that Xavier center Kenny Frease was satisfied with an apology from Bearcat forward Yancy Gates after the two "reached out to each other privately."
Gates punched Frease in the face during the melee. The 7-foot, 275-pound center fell, bleeding from below his left eye, and was kicked by someone else while on the floor. X-rays were normal. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Gates was suspended by UC for six games.
The two archrivals' annual "Crosstown Shootout" Saturday ended in a melee with punches, shoves and one player getting kicked while on the floor.
Officials and players of both schools have apologized, and both schools suspended four players each. No. 8 Xavier won the game 76-53. It was stopped by referees with 9.4 seconds left.
"This was an unfortunate situation," Deters said in a statement. "However, after talking with both coaches, I truly believe that the teams will be able to deal with the situation more effectively than the criminal justice system."
Messages for comment were left with the two schools' athletic departments.
Criminal prosecutions from player confrontations in sports events are very rare. A handful of National Hockey League players have been charged with assault over the years. But there were no charges in a 2010 melee in Cincinnati between the St. Louis Cardinals and Reds baseball players that left Cardinal catcher Jason LaRue with a concussion after being kicked by Reds' pitcher Johnny Cueto.
After a 2008 brawl between teams in a minor-league baseball game in Dayton, Ohio, a Peoria Chiefs pitcher was convicted of felonious assault causing serious injury for hitting a fan in the head with a ball thrown into the stands.
School officials have said they would work together to promote sportsmanship and cooperation to try to preserve the Shootout, one of Cincinnati's most eagerly anticipated annual events. Xavier students camped out overnight in freezing temperatures to get tickets to this year's home game for the Musketeers.
Xavier guard Tu Holloway was suspended for one game. He acknowledged making comments directed at UC's team right before the brawl, and afterward described his team's toughness as "a whole bunch of gangsters." He said later he regretted using the term "gangsters."
Holloway was irritated during the buildup to the game when Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick said in a radio interview that Holloway, one of the nation's best guards, wouldn't even be a starter on the Bearcats.
Xavier junior guard Mark Lyons was suspended for two games, and freshman Dez Wells and sophomore Landen Amos for four games each.
Besides Gates, suspended Bearcats are starting junior center Cheikh Mbodj (six games), freshman forward Octavius Ellis (four games) and freshman guard Ge'Lawn Guyn, one game.