UC players apologize for Crosstown Shootout brawl

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Suspended UC players Yancy Gates, Octavius Ellis, Cheikh Mbodj and Ge'Lawn Guyn apologized on Monday for the Crosstown Shootout brawl.

Gates, Ellis and Mbodj are suspended for six games. Guyn is suspended for one game.

UC players, coaches and university administrators spoke about the suspensions during a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday.

"I believe in my heart in forgiveness," said UC athletic director Whit Babcock.  "We'll move forward, but that doesn't mean we'll forget."

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.

Gates, who is from Cincinnati, choked up when he said, "a lot of people have been calling me a thug."

Cincinnati consulted with the Big East about the penalties and the suspended players will begin anger management counseling.

"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."

Meanwhile, Xavier University announced they will be suspending four players following the Crosstown Shootout brawl that happened Saturday.

Freshman Dezmine Wells and Sophomore Landen Amos are each suspended for four games.  Junior Mark Lyons will be suspended for two games, and Senior Tu Holloway is suspended for one game.

Xavier's Associate Vice President and Athletic Director Mike Bobinski announced the suspensions in a press conference Sunday.

During the press conference, Holloway took responsibility for instigating the fight.

"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. "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."

Holloway and Xavier athletics director Mike Bobinski said on Sunday that they regretted the point guard's use of the term "gangsters" to describe the Musketeers' toughness in a postgame news conference.

The rivalry has taken on a hard edge over the years, with trash talking, occasional shoving and technical fouls the norm in games. The first all-out brawl raised questions about whether it should continue.

"Should we not play the game anymore?" Bobinski said. "I think that's a bad idea. I think that's sort of giving in to the events of yesterday. But I only believe that if we can change the dynamic of the game.

"I've spoken with Whit Babcock, and we've agreed to work together to make this a positive event and a celebration of the Division I basketball that's played in the city of Cincinnati and not the Hatfield and McCoy event that it's turned into over the years."

Mack choked up on Sunday when he talked about the fight.

"The ending embarrasses me," Mack said. "It's really difficult to explain to my 5- and 6-year old girls why a fight ensued at the end of the game. Got a lot of emails last might from a lot of other parents having to explain to their 8- or 9-year-old at the game what ensued.

"I'd like to apologize for not doing a better job. I should've called a timeout. I should've taken my starters off the floor. I made a mistake. I believed at the time in what I was doing. I felt like calling a timeout for our seniors to walk off the court in celebration would only antagonize the situation. I was hoping time would expire. I made the wrong decision."

Xavier's penalties will extend through the Musketeers' appearance at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii over Christmas. They are off this week for finals, and resume on Sunday at home against Oral Roberts. The following three games are in Hawaii.

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