"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 in a statement. "The University of Cincinnati has responded with swift, expeditious and appropriate action, which The BIG EAST Conference fully supports."
"Unfortunate events" refers to the brawl that occurred between players from cross-town rivals Cincinnati and Xavier on Saturday. The players started pushing and throwing punches with 9.4 seconds left on the clock in what was a blowout win for Xavier. The teams would not play those final seconds as the refs opted to end the game early.
Each player ejected for fighting will serve a mandatory 1-game NCAA suspension. Cincinnati has opted to suspend Yancy Gates, Octavius Ellis and Cheikh Mbodj for six games each and Ge'Lawn Guyn for one game. Those suspensions include the NCAA's mandatory suspension. Xavier also suspended four players, ranging from one to four games, based on the fight.
None of the Cincinnati players will miss more than one Big East conference game.
Gates landed a particularly devastating punch on Xavier's Kenny Freese, while Mbodj stepped on him, leaving the center with a black eye and a bloodied face.
Mick Cronin, the Bearcats' head coach, could add on to the suspensions at his own discretion, but no such action has yet been announced.
Gates' punch was really no different from what JayVaughn Pinkston did off the court last season. The only difference is apparently the venue and the schools involved. Villanova chose to suspend Pinkston from school for the entire season.
Should the penalty on Gates be more severe?
Keep in mind that Villanova has divergent priorities from many secular colleges and universities. Pinkston was a player at a Catholic university that must preserve its Christian values and image — in other words, allowing athlete misbehavior to appear to be taken lightly is not something Villanova can bear easily. In fact, Villanova would prefer to appear overly strict.
Remember that BYU, another religious institution, suspended a player during the NCAA tournament last year for having sex with his girlfriend.
Then again, as one disgruntled Temple fan pointed out on Twitter, Pinkston hasn't really "missed" any games. His suspension was one from school, which meant that athletically he didn't use up any eligibility. Does that mellow the penalty? Certainly a little bit, but Pinkston was still forced to get a job in a warehouse and pay rent for a year; he couldn't take classes at Villanova and his fourth season at Nova won't be a true "5th year;" and he also didn't have access to campus facilities to work out or practice.
Technically JayVaughn redshirted last season, but he received none of the benefits of redshirting. It was an academic punishment, because the altercation didn't happen on the court — the athletics department didn't really have jurisdiction over the matter.
Villanova looked to punish Pinkston in a manner that was appropriate under the school's strict disciplinary code. Cincinnati, however, is a secular state university with different priorities. Villanova's priorities trickle down a church hierarchy, through the Augustinian Order; Cincinnati's priorities are set by the Ohio state legislature.
Six games is a longer suspension that the NCAA imposes for the infraction. The NCAA won't move their suspension to the conference season because all games have some meaning in the eyes of the NCAA. For Cincinnati, extending a suspension because the next game is Wright State and not UConn is insulting to the teams they will play in the next six games, but also obviously against school interest.
Six games may or may not be long enough, but don't measure the penalty against what Villanova did with JayVaughn Pinkston. It was a different situation, a different type of penalty and a different type of school.