As you no doubt have heard by now, Saturday's matchup between heated rivals, the Xavier Musketeers and the Cincinnati Bearcats, ended in a benches-clearing melee, featuring pushing, stomping, trash talking, and punching.
Was this fight a disgrace? Yes. Could it have been prevented? Probably, but that's not why I'm writing this article.
No, instead I feel a need to talk about the mockery that is the suspensions handed out by both universities. The day after the fight, it was announce that Cincinnati had suspended Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj, and Octavius Ellis for six games, as well as suspended Ge'Lawn Guyn for one game. Xavier, on the other hand, suspended Dez Wells and Landen Amos for four games, Mark Lyons for two games, and stay Tu Holloway for one game.
Clearly both universities don't understand the severity of the actions these young men took part in and have made it clear that getting wins on the court is more important than teaching these guys a valuable lesson that there are repercussions to their actions, as well as showing that their university has principles.
For Cincinnati, the suspensions that baffle me the most are the one game suspension of Ge'Lawn Guyn and the six game suspension of Yancy Gates.
Look at that video. Guyn is the one who is jawing with Tu Holloway to start the whole thing. I understand that he did not throw a punch or shove someone, but he had a major hand in kicking off this brawl. By getting in the face of Holloway, Guyn was pouring gasoline on what was already a heated situation.
While I don't think his suspension should be as severe as some of the others, one game, in my opinion, is not enough of a punishment for one of the starters of the fight. I would have been content if I saw anywhere from a 2-4 game suspension for Guyn.
Then there's Yancy Gates. This guy goes out of his way, actually going over other players and officials, in order to sucker punch Kenny Frease, who was actually trying to separate men from both teams. That punch was dangerous, cowardly, and completely uncalled for, and helped make the situation much more dangerous than it already was.
There is no reason Yancy Gates should not have been suspended at least 10 games, if not the entire season. There is no place on a basketball court for that type of behavior, and Gates should have been punished much more severely than he was.
Just to add more insult to this "punishment," look at Cincinnati's upcoming schedule over these six games: Wright State, Radford, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Chicago State, Oklahoma, and Pittsburgh. Not exactly murderer's row. How, for being the most visible, vicious part of a televised brawl, do you only miss one Big East game? This is barely a punishment to Gates for what he did, and is almost in no way a punishment to the team.
Head coach Mike Cronin said all of the right things in the press conference following the fight. He threatened to throw people off the team after the embarrassment that was his player's actions on the court, because "that's what the University of Cincinnati is about."
After talking this big game though, Cincinnati's AD cops out and allows the biggest players in the fight to not only stay on the team, but get to play again this season and only miss one Big East game. Clearly, "what the University of Cincinnati is about" is winning basketball games.
Xavier isn't innocent in this one either. In a lot of ways, the suspensions they doled out were even more laughable than Cincinnati's.
Two games for Mark Lyons? You mean, the guy who got face to face with a Cincinnati player going into halftime? The guy who fired the first shot and shoved Ge'Lawn Guyn? Yeah, that guy. Somehow, physically starting an embarrassing brawl is only worthy of a two game suspension. Even if you look past that Lyons was the first man to shove anyone, just watch the tape. He's flailing around, throwing as many punches as anyone out there.
That brings me to Tu Holloway. It's no secret, Holloway is the man at Xavier, and is the hands down star player of the Musketeers. But like I said about Guyn earlier, there is no fight if Holloway isn't trash talking at the end of a 76-53 beatdown. All the way down the court after the last basket, Holloway talked. After Cincinnati missed their next shot, Holloway talked. If there is one person who you could point to as the man who incited this riot, here he is.
And yet, he receives a one game suspension. Those types of suspensions should be reserved for those who miss practice, not for those who start a brawl.
What was even more troubling from Xavier was the comments from Lyons and Holloway after the game. Holloway said, "we have a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room" and that Xavier's motto is "zip them up." Lyons added, "we didn't do this," blaming the media and Cincinnati for the brawl.
First off, yes Mark, you did have a hand in "doing this." But more importantly, listen to these two. They clearly don't understand the severity of what went on out there. If anything, they're actually proud of the "gangsters" in their locker room.
And yet, one was suspended two games and the other only one. Neither will miss Xavier's huge showdown with Gonzaga in two weeks or a single A-10 game. What lesson was learned here?
Are these universities not embarrassed that they are being represented like this? Shouldn't they want to keep guys like this from being seen in the public spotlight? Or if nothing else, why not show that acting like a "gangster" will not be tolerated by your institution?
Sadly, more often than not, this is a trend seen all over college sports. If you're a superstar, you're untouchable, no matter what you do.
Sure, occasionally you have a school like BYU suspending Brandon Davies for the year after violating the school's honor code, or George Mason suspending Andre Cornelius ten games for a misdemeanor, but for every one of those stories of a school sticking to their principles, whether the public agrees with them or not, there's a Syracuse who allows Fab Melo to play despite being arrested over the summer, and a UCLA who suspended Jerime Anderson two games—one of which was an exhibition—after stealing a laptop.
At the end of the day, Yancy Gates is the second leading scorer and leading rebounder for Cincinnati. Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are the two leading scorers for Xavier. Of course they won't be off the court for too long, because then the team won't win. After all, winning is what is most important, right?