Cincinnati, Xavier reveal suspensions

Updated: December 11, 2011, 10:07 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Cincinnati and Xavier each suspended four players Sunday for their roles in a brawl that ended the Bearcats' blowout loss to No. 8 Xavier a day earlier.

Cincinnati suspended senior Yancy Gates, junior Cheikh Mbodj and freshman Octavius Ellis six games each and freshman Ge'Lawn Guyn for one game.

Xavier suspended freshman Dez Wells and walk-on Landen Amos for four games, junior guard Mark Lyons for two and senior guard Tu Holloway for one game.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said the four suspended Bearcats players will still have to earn their way back onto the team, even with their fixed game suspensions handed out by the school and endorsed by the Big East on Sunday afternoon.

"Before any of them put a uniform back on they will apologize and that's just the first step before putting the uniform back on," Cronin told ESPN.com Sunday. "Just because the press release says what it says that doesn't mean they're all back. They're going to sit in front of a camera and say how sorry they are and how grateful they are for getting a second chance.

"If I don't believe it then they won't be on the team -- and if they don't demonstrate that they won't ever put on a jersey again -- period," Cronin said. "They're going to sit in front of a camera and say it. I can tell the difference as to how genuine they are. The university issued the suspensions and I supported it. But for me it's different. I have the autonomy to not let anybody back on the team."

Gates was seen throwing multiple punches during the melee that forced game officials to call the game with 9.4 seconds left and the Musketeers leading 76-53 at the Cintas Center Saturday.

Game officials amended the post-game box and ejected Gates, Mbodj and Wells for fighting, meaning under NCAA rules they have to sit the next game -- Wednesday at Wright State for Cincinnati and Oral Roberts next Sunday for Xavier.

Big East associate commissioner Dan Gavitt said the conference supported Cincinnati's decision and wouldn't place any added sanctions.

Cronin said under Big East rules none of the suspended players are allowed to be at the arena. That would mean Gates, Mbodj, Ellis and Guyn would likely not be in Dayton for Wednesday's game.

Cincinnati scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon with Cronin and the suspended players.

The six-game suspension means the three players will also miss games against Radford (Dec. 17), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 21), Chicago State (Dec. 23), against Oklahoma at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati (Dec. 29) and the Big East opener at Pitt on Jan. 1. If the players adhere to Cronin's rules to get back on the team, then they would all be allowed back for the Big East home opener against Notre Dame on Jan. 4.

Cincinnati (5-3) was ranked No. 22 in the preseason after making the NCAA tournament last March for the first time in Cronin's five years on the job. But the Bearcats have already lost home games to Presbyterian and Marshall.

Cronin said that Ellis' suspension came about once the Bearcats saw angles of the brawl that weren't shown during ESPN2's telecast.

"We studied it for 24 hours," Cronin said. "Guys that didn't act in an appropriate manner were suspended. Just because you didn't see it on ESPN doesn't mean it didn't happen."

Cronin said he will make the players apologize on camera and if they can't write a script then "they will do so unwritten and unprepared in front of everybody. I told them that they have to tell the truth and the truth is that they embarrassed the university. They have to say how sorry they were and how it negatively reflected on the university. We are going to turn this into a positive and help the community. There are a lot of kids where I'm from and where Yancy Gates is from that look up to us."

Meanwhile, Xavier coach Chris Mack said Sunday that Holloway's inflammatory postgame comments were the reason the potential A-10 player of the year and first-team all-American was suspended for one game.

"Tu Holloway was suspended because of his actions that precipitated the fight and his comments after," Mack said by phone from Cincinnati. "Lyons because he instigated things even though he had become a peacemaker in trying to settle Yancy Gates down.

"(Holloway) said they're not thugs, he was talking about toughness on the court but he did it in the wrong fashion and that's why he's going to sit," Mack said. "He didn't mean that our gang is going to beat up your gang. It was the wrong choice of words and it's a problem and our fault for putting them up there in the first place. It was 15 minutes after the game and we should have put two other guys up there, not two that were in the middle of it. We all made poor choices and have a lot of regret for it."

Mack said it was his fault that Holloway and Lyons were allowed to go to the news conference where they created more issues for themselves in discussing retaliation for comments and Holloway calling his team "gangsters," but not "thugs."

"Coach (Chris) Mack always reminds me, 'You're a leader of this team. The young guys are going to do what you're going to do,'" Holloway said Sunday. "If I would've never talked to (UC's) bench or if I wouldn't have said anything to their players, maybe Dez Wells wouldn't be suspended four games. The result of what I did, I kind of brought him down, I brought Mark Lyons down, I brought the rest of my teammates down because of what I did out there on the floor."

A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said Sunday that Xavier took responsibility for placing Holloway and Lyons in the postgame news conference and they were too emotional to be in that position.

"They shouldn't have been there and that's why he's being suspended," McGlade said.

Holloway will miss next Sunday's game against Oral Roberts. Lyons will miss that game and the first game of the Diamond Head Classic against Long Beach State in Honolulu on Dec. 22. Amos and Wells won't play in the ORU game or the three games in the Diamond Head Classic, but Mack said they might be able to travel to Honolulu so they're not isolated from the team.

Xavier (8-0) was ranked No. 8 before Saturday's game and is likely to climb with Monday's rankings.

Mack said that senior Kenny Frease, who suffered a bloodied face and a black eye from the Gates punch and possibly from a Mbodj foot when he attempted to stomp on Frease, had no swelling Sunday.

Mack said Frease had an X-ray Saturday night that was negative. And he said Frease's vision was fine.

Both Mack and Cronin said that the officiating crew of Tony Crisp, Jeff Anderson and Michael Roberts should have acted earlier and possibly handed out technical to the players for trash-talking instead of doing nothing until the fight.

"Give guys a technical so they know if they get another one they're gone," Mack said.

Both coaches also said that they're not sure if there will be an 80th meeting between the two rivals in 2012-13. They also aren't against moving the game, if there is one, to a neutral arena like the downtown US Bank Arena in Cincinnati.

"Whatever road we go down, we have to do a better job of not escalating the rivalry to where there is animosity between the two programs by calling each other out on Twitter or on radio shows," Mack said. "It should be more of a celebration of two really good programs in the city rather than the Hatfields and the McCoys. It's up to both our programs, led by me and Mick. That's what has to happen."

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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