New Orleans' Travin Thibodeaux apologizes for tussle with teammate

New Orleans forward Travin Thibodeaux has apologized for a heated physical altercation with a teammate during Tuesday's loss in the Privateers' NCAA tournament First Four game against Mount St. Mary's.

In a 277-word letter published to the school's athletic website, Thibodeaux said he was sorry for his "erratic behavior on the most prestigious stage in college basketball."

"I embarrassed and did not represent my university well," he wrote in the letter. "I take full responsibility for my selfish actions and I will accept whatever consequences my coaches and university's administration choose to give me.

"I regret this as one of the biggest mistakes I have made in my life. I am extremely sorry to disgrace my family, my team, and university. I will take this moment as a major learning experience and work on becoming a better man/teammate."

New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger had to break up the scuffle between Thibodeaux and guard Christavious Gill late in the second half of the 67-66 loss.

The incident occurred as the two were heading to the bench for a timeout after Thibodeaux was called for a 3-second violation. Gill shoved Thibodeaux, and Thibodeaux appeared to respond by putting his hands around Gill's neck.

Thibodeaux, who was benched by Slessinger for the rest of the game, called Gill "one of my closest friends on the team throughout my three years here."

"Even though that happened, I still love you with all my heart and will always have your back through whatever situation," Thibodeaux wrote in the letter.

The Privateers nearly completed a comeback down the stretch without Thibodeaux, who finished the game with 11 points, two assists and two rebounds.

"Well, we've got two extremely competitive guys there," Slessinger said about the fight. "And, I mean, they're best friends, to be honest with you. Just got sideways with each other. One thought he should have zigged, and the other thought he should have zagged. They got sideways with each other, they got into it and I made the decision to sit Travin the rest of the half.

"I thought it was in the best interest of our team moving forward for the half. It was disappointing."

Information from ESPN's Austin Ward was used in this report.