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Published Tuesday
October 14, 2003

Huston suspended for punching fan

BY ELIZABETH MERRILL AND RICH KAIPUST

 

WORLD-HERALD BUREAU

LINCOLN - Kellen Huston, whose punch was replayed on national news networks and dissected by Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday, stood before a bank of microphones after practice and apologized for hitting a Missouri fan.

Then Nebraska Coach Frank Solich suspended the backup cornerback, who'll sit for Saturday's Texas A&M; game and could face a misdemeanor assault charge.

Matthew Scott, a 21-year-old from Lee's Summit, Mo., reported the alleged assault Tuesday morning to the University of Missouri police. Video that surfaced Monday shows Huston punching Scott in the face as Huston is running off the field, seconds after the Tigers upset Nebraska on Saturday night in Columbia, Mo.

Scott, part of the first wave of revelers to storm Faurot Field, is shown pointing a finger at Huston. Jack Watring, interim director of the university police department, said the report will go to the city prosecutor, who will determine whether charges will be filed. Watring said the process could take a couple days.

"It's not like somebody got murdered or something," Watring said. "It's a pretty minor charge."

But the incident dominated Solich's Tuesday morning press conference, and, at one point, it became clear the coach was getting agitated by the barrage of questions.

He defended Huston, a pre-med student from Ankeny, Iowa, who also serves as the team's top place-kick holder.

"I'm not sure how you would react, if you felt it was a threatening situation," Solich said to one of the questioners. "You've probably never been down on the field before when fans have stormed it. You may have been around drunk people before, I'm not sure.

"But there are certain things that transpire that sometimes are reaction to a situation that happens, and that's what I believe happened."

At least a couple of Huskers called Saturday's scene "scary." Nebraska Athletic Director Steve Pederson, who was standing at the edge of the field, said it was the most out-of-control situation he's ever seen.

More than 50 fans were arrested for trespassing, and Solich cut the traditional postgame prayer short to get his team off the field.

Watring said University of Missouri police have talked with Scott about possibly facing a trespassing charge for being on the field after the game. Scott is not a Missouri student.

Huston issued a brief statement after practice as reporters gathered in the team lounge.

"First, I would like to say that I sincerely regret what transpired Saturday evening in Columbia," he said. "My actions should not be a reflection on Coach Solich, the University of Nebraska or our football team.

"I would never intentionally bring harm to another individual."

Van Susteren, who has a nightly show on Fox News, even weighed in on the Huston incident Tuesday night. At the end of the report, she talked about how big of a deal it was when her alma mater, Wisconsin, beat Nebraska nearly three decades ago.

"Does Nebraska just have a bad team that they were clobbered by Missouri?" she asked.

The Tigers hadn't beaten Nebraska in 25 years, and the goalposts came down just minutes after thousands of fans stormed the field.

Two Nebraska players said they were told not to comment on the Huston situation, although one hinted that he was bothered by Saturday's mayhem. Two others said they made it to the locker room without any significant problems.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Pederson said that Huston must be held responsible for his actions, but "there must also come a point at which fans are held responsible for their actions."

"I have seen such an erosion of civility in the past several years that it is making it very unfair to players and coaches."

Solich was asked if there was a solution to fans storming the field.

"I guess have the visiting team win all the time."




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