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Something Is Rotten In The State Of Texas…Tech

Despite reading, watching and writing about sports for a living, somehow I missed the entire story of Nigel Bethel II at Texas Tech, which began about three weeks ago and has already miraculously reached its conclusion. It’s a situation that is truly stunning on so many levels.

For those unaware, the incident in question happened during a game of pickup basketball on June 28. Incoming freshman Nigel Bethel II, a football player out of Booker T. Washington in Miami, was playing in the TTU gym with, among others, women’s senior basketball guard Amber Battle.

What exactly when down was only known from verbal accounts until Texas Tech decided this week that releasing the video surveillance would somehow bolster the defense of their actions. The video very clearly shows the two players engaged in a very minor skirmish on the basketball court before Bethel reacts to a slight shove from Battle by slugging her hard enough in the face to break her jaw.

Bethel was dismissed from the team on June 29, one day after the incident, which was understandably reported to law enforcement and moved forward for criminal prosecution. And in record time too!

[Click here to see the surveillance video]

Considering the video evidence and the fact that Bethel had already been dismissed by the university, an indictment for assault seemed all but assured. But once again we’ve learned that when it comes to the Lone Star State and football, nothing is ever assured.

Not only did the grand jury not return with an indictment in the case, instead they returned with a letter pleading the case for Bethel, insisting he was prematurely punished and asking for his reinstatement to Texas Tech. Said the grand jury:

“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 reinstated. If he is reinstated, it is our belief that his consequences should not be greater than those of Ms. Battle. If he is not reinstated, 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.”

It’s safe to say that in this case the grand jury went well beyond the scope of their responsibility by publicly advocating for Bethel in such a manner. Unsurprisingly, their sentiment seemed to directly echo that of Bethel’s attorney Tray Payne, who is a very proud alumni of Texas Tech.

That’s actually quite odd in criminal court. Defense attorneys and members of the grand jury usually find themselves on different sides. But not in this case. In this case it’s almost as if the university, the defense attorney/alumnus and the grand jury—which may or may not have been stacked with one or more TTU boosters—were on the same page from the very beginning.

On Thursday Texas Tech headed the “unsolicited” advice of the grand jury and reinstated Bethel. Battle, who I remind you suffered a broken jaw, was suspended for the month of November for “her role” in the altercation. Which means she was basically suspended for not being able to take a punch from a male football player better.

Bethel took to Twitter to thank everyone, including the incomprehensibly generous grand jury, for his second chance. Weeks after actually breaking her jaw, Bethel finally offered up an apology to Battle.

Battle, on the other hand, has completely disappeared from social media. She has completely changed her tune on the incident and previous tweets addressing it are nowhere to be found. She actually apologized for her “role” in the incident.

In a written statement—which may or may not have been bought or cajoled—Battle admitted to initiating the “first contact.”

Yeah, that’s right. Battle issued a written statement formally apologizing and Bethel received a written apology from the grand jury. Not that we couldn’t have guessed before, but it’s safe to say which sport (and gender) reigns supreme in Texas Tech athletics.

Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no way to know who conspired with whom or why Battle suddenly changed her tun on what when down. Especially since TTU worked overtime to push this through the courts and under the rug in less than three weeks.

The only thing that’s certain is that things really worked out well for Nigel Bethel II, quite the opposite than for Amber Battle.

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