Yancy Gates didn’t start the Cincinnati-Xavier brawl on Saturday, but the Bearcats center was the man who inflicted the most damage — to the face of Xavier senior Kenny Frease and to the reputations of his school and himself.
And for that, Gates, a Cincinnati senior who grew up The Queen City, apologized Monday, eventually breaking down into tears.
“My actions were just not what I’m about as a person, as an athlete,” he said. “I’m sorry for the embarrassment I put on myself, the University of Cincinnati and the city of Cincinnati. That’s not what we’re about. Now people all over the country just now hearing about Cincinnati, that’s all they know it for. That’s embarrassing. I just want to move forward and do whatever I can to make up for it.”
Gates spoke at a press conference that also included coach Mick Cronin and the other Bearcats suspended for their roles in the brawl, Octavius Ellis, Ge’Lawn Guyn and Cheikh Mbodj. Cronin and Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock offered explanations for the length of the various suspensions and why they settled on this and not dismissals , a move many had called for and expected.
That fact wasn’t lost on Gates.
“It could have been over for me,” Gates said. “I was worried about the rest of the teammates in the locker room; if I was to be dismissed for the rest of the season, that’s not only hurting me, that’s hurting the other guys in the locker room. I was a little scared that it might have been over. It might have been my last game in a Cincinnati jersey.”
Instead, he’ll miss the next six games and also – according to Cronin – have to do some community outreach and do his best to rebuild the school’s image and his image as best he can. If not, his Cincinnati career may be over. (He also may have to deal with criminal charges.)
“I don’t know about the environment. I can take responsibility for my actions,” Gates said. “I should have grabbed the freshmen instead of going out there throwing punches. Some people are going to say it’s fair; some people are going to say it’s unfair. That’s not up for me to decide. All I can do is take my punishment.”
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