BU official departs three months after reporter assaulted

Heath Nielsen. (Jail photo)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Baylor Associate Athletic Director Heath Nielsen, 47, who was arrested in November on a misdemeanor assault warrant, is no longer with the university, KWTX has learned.

The warrant stemmed from an attack on Nov. 5 in which a sportswriter was grabbed by the throat and pushed away from a player after the Bears’ 62-22 loss to TCU.

Nielsen’s 16-year career at the university ended Friday, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

A Baylor spokeswoman said she was not able to comment on personnel matters.

Calls to the Baylor athletic and police departments were not returned Thursday.

Nielsen’s twitter account is no longer associated with Baylor athletics, and he’s been removed from the Baylor website.

The victim of the Nov. 5 attack, James McBride had received permission from a football player to take a photograph, but after the picture was taken “Nielsen walked up to McBride on the right, grabbed McBride by the throat with his right hand, squeezed and pushed him away from the football player,’ according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KWTX in November.

When McBride and the player asked Nielsen what the problem was, he replied, “He’s abusing his privileges,” ‘the affidavit said.

“McBride had visible scratches and complained of pain around his throat.”

The injuries were photographed, the affidavit says.

McBride was writing for Texas Blaze News, a community newspaper in Keller.

He later told KWTX that Nielsen told him, “You’ll never f****** work in this business again. You’re abusing your privileges on the field.”

A spokesperson for the newspaper said stadium cameras recorded the incident.

KWTX has requested the video, but the university has declined to release it.

After the arrest, Nielsen’s attorney, Michelle Tuegel, issued a brief statement in which she said Nielsen denied attacking McBride.

“The one-sided version of events released by the complainant are not true or accurate. Mr. Nielsen maintains that he intervened to stop the interview, but he did not grab the complainant’s throat,” she said in the statement.

“We look forward to vigorously defending Mr. Nielsen and presenting the facts involved in this situation.”

Nielsen returned to work after his arrest in a much less visible role, but sources said was punished at some point.

Since 2012, Nielsen had been responsible for management of the football program's public image.

Before that, Nielsen spent six years as the school’s director of athletic media relations and six years as assistant athletic director of communications.

He joined the Baylor staff in 2000 after two years as assistant athletics director for media relations at New Mexico State University.

Before that, he was assistant director of athletic media relations at Mississippi State University.

He’s a 1994 graduate of Utah State University.