April 12, 2012

Izzo reinstates 'apologetic' Nix in tearful press conference

EAST LANSING - In a tearful press conference at Breslin Center on Thursday, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo announced that he is reinstating senior center Derrick Nix to the Spartan basketball team.

Nix pleaded guilty on Thursday morning to reduced charges of impaired driving after being arrested on two misdemeanor charges on April 3. A marijuana possession charge has been dismissed and Nix will be sentenced May 11.

"I am definitely going to make life miserable for him because I want him to be successful," Izzo said.

Izzo didn't elaborate on whether Nix will miss games next season.

"There is potential for that depending on what he does this summer, depending on how he acts," Izzo said. "That will determine whether this turns into games or this turns into total suspension. I have not come up with anything concrete.

"That is like team stuff, one-year stuff. I'm not worried about the team. I made some decisions in the past that definitely affected the team. I'm more worried about the big picture."

Izzo said he believes he has an obligation to the community, the university, the program and Nix, and considered all angles when making the decision to give the junior from Detroit another chance.

"We don't measure him on how he's doing now," Izzo said. "We measure him on how he's doing when he's gone. When I look back on some players that went through some minor things and what they have done with their lives, there is a hell of a lot more good than bad. Me bail out on somebody is not what I've done very often. This is one of those cases when he made a ridiculously stupid decision and if I thought it was an everyday decision we wouldn't be sitting here."

Nix averaged 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds for the Spartans last season as the first post player off the bench. Nix will be Michigan State's only returning senior next season. Prior to the arrest, Izzo said Nix would be in line to step forward as a potential captain. Nix said he still intends to live up to those expectations.

"From this point on, I have to become a man, make all the right decisions for me and my future here and just try to walk the straight line," Nix said. "I realize that I will be watched now. That's the decision that I made and the life I have to live and I just want to be able to move forward and regain my trust with a lot of coaches, players and family, refocus my whole life and continue to finish out this year and become the leader that everybody is looking for me to be, and just get my life back on the right line."

Nix had tears rolling down his cheek as he spoke to media from the podium in a gray suit.

"I just want to say it's embarrassing that we even have to have this press conference because I let a lot of people down," Nix said. "I truly apologize to this program. One bad decision can change a person's life.

Related: Izzo-Nix Press Conference Audio

"With coaches and former players and friends and family, I was given a second chance to come here and finish my basketball career and I just want to say thank you all, and sorry to the media, my family and I want to say sorry to little Steven Izzo because that is someone who looks up to me, and that's a big part of my life. From this point on, I just hope to make the best decisions for me and for my teammates."

Izzo's eyes welled with tears at times during the press conference.

"It did hurt me that I put faith in people," Izzo said. "I think he has qualities. I do think he made an idiotic, ridiculously poor decision. But in the last 365 days he showed an incredible amount of work ethic and consistency. This guy has made incredible strides, mostly with his weight, his school work, being a better teammate than he was in his first two years, and you can bet this decision is not made without talking to numerous people.

"I tried to look at it as a coach and a community leader and I tried to look at it as a parent. Boy, that's a tough job. Each one of those things brings something different. I look at Derrick's body of work.

"For the program, there are many, many players before that made a mistake here or there, some public and some private. It doesn't make them any better but it is just part of growing up."

Izzo sent a volley of hypotheticals toward media who were in the room.

"Do you want me to treat him like a 6-foot-9, 275-pound human being that just kind of walks and goes by himself, or do you want me to treat him like you'd want me to treat your son?" Izzo said. "And you'd better think before you answer that because I know how I'd want my son treated, and he's going to make mistakes and I'm going to have to deal with them. I don't think there is one person in this room that hits the road on their son, and when we make a commitment to a kid we tell mom, we tell dad, 'Give us the baton for four years and let's see if we can continue the process or make it even better.'

"When I see some people out there (in the media) throwing stones when I know things about them is ridiculous.

"I'm going to challenge him (Nix). I'm going to make him do some things. My staff will be on him. But I'm not watching him morning, noon and night. I'm hoping that this is the year that the little boy - as Mary Babers (Draymond Green's mother) said - starts to become a man.

"You might all kid yourself but there are a lot of people in here that are not men yet and I'd be one of them because I think it's a process that goes until the day that they put you down."

Izzo didn't elaborate on what internal discipline Nix will undergo, but said, "I can promise you one thing: He is going to be involved with kids. I had to go home and explain something to a 12-year-old that I had really no interest in explaining. He is going to be involved in kids and personally I think he is going to love that."

Police reports indicate that Nix as driving a Dodge at the time of his arrest.

Izzo directed a question about the car to Nix. "It was my brother's girlfriend's car," Nix said. "It was a 2007 Dodge Charger."

Izzo said: "There was a lot made of it (the car). That to me would be like miniscule. I took incredible offense to the thought of why they were making the car a big deal. It wasn't his car; I know his car. The first night we called, I knew who's car it was. It was already checked out. I got the same report you guys got. That is nobody's fault, that is just a misunderstanding or somebody got it wrong. To me that is nothing, that is not pertinent with this story in any way, shape or form and if somebody wants to make it that under the circumstances I think they want to make it, now we've got a fistfight."

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