Husker faces assault charge

Player is suspended after punching MU fan
Wednesday, October 15, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:15 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The University of Nebraska football player who was videotaped punching an MU fan Saturday night was suspended Tuesday for one game.

The suspension comes the same day that 21-year-old Matthew Scott of Lee’s Summit contacted the MU Police Department to press charges against Kellen Huston, the Nebraska football player who was videotaped punching him on Faurot Field after MU’s 41-24 victory Saturday night.

Scott told MU Interim Police Chief Jack Watring that he suffered two black eyes and wants to press charges against Huston, a 5-foot-11-inch, 200-pound junior place-kick holder with the Cornhuskers, Watring said.

Huston said in a brief statement after his team’s Tuesday practice that he regretted the incident.

Watring said MU police have launched a criminal investigation and intend to pass along their findings to the city’s prosecuting attorney, Rose Wibbenmeyer. Police will refer the case to the city’s prosecuting attorney — not the county’s — because it is being classified as a “simple assault case,” in which no deadly weapons were used, no serious injuries were suffered and no one was hospitalized, Watring said.

MU police have viewed one video recording of the incident provided by KOMU/TV 8, but Watring said the quality was poor. Police expected to review a better version of the video footage after it appeared on KOMU on Tuesday night, Watring said.

The tape shows Huston hitting the fan in the face with a clenched fist after the fan ran at Huston pointing a finger at him.

Watring said the MU police plan to contact a list of witnesses after reviewing the videotape. He also said that the case is being handled as a misdeameanor assault because Scott did not suffer any broken bones or serous injures. Watring could not provide a timetable for the investigation.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said.

In an interview with Kansas City television station KMBZ, Scott said, “Regardless of what I did — if I said something — I didn’t deserve to get hit.”

NU football coach Frank Solich said Huston was provoked.

“He is confronted with someone coming right at him, a guy pointing at him. Language was used,” he told the Lincoln Journal Star. “It happened so quick.”

Solich told the Journal Star that when he spoke with Huston, he did not deny hitting Scott.

Huston, a junior walk-on from Ankeny, Iowa, appeared before a group of reporters in a Memorial Stadium players lounge to issue his statement.

“My actions should not be a reflection on Coach Solich, the University of Nebraska or this football team,” Huston said. “I would never intentionally bring harm to another individual.”

On Tuesday, Solich suspended Huston for NU’s next game versus Texas A&M.

In a prepared statement issued Tuesday, Solich said: “Kellen is very sorry that this unfortunate situation happened, and so are we. After viewing the film and speaking to people who were at the scene, I truly believe that Kellen did not instigate the situation and that he was simply reacting to what he saw as a dangerous situation coming right at him. However, Kellen knows that we do not condone our players striking another person, and he will be suspended for this week’s game.”

Steve Pederson, NU’s athletic director, agreed with Solich’s decision to suspend Huston.

“Players must be held responsible for their actions,” Pederson said. “Kellen Huston will be held responsible for his actions.”

Pedersen said fans must also be held responsible for their actions and that “buying a ticket does not give you the right to say and do whatever you choose.”

Pedersen said alcohol consumption is usually to blame in these cases and doesn’t justify the kind of behavior shown during the “out-of-control situation” on Saturday night.

“I would never claim that hitting someone is appropriate, but I was not standing in Kellen Huston’s shoes on Saturday night,” he said. “It may be easy to sit in your living room and watch what you think you see on television, but be careful not to judge others too quickly. Things are never quite what they may seem.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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