Heath Nielsen, associate athletic director, charged with assaulting reporter

Baylor associate athletic director Heath Nielsen was arrested and charged with assaulting a reporter on the field after the Bears lost to Texas Christian University on Nov. 5.

Nielsen was arrested on Nov. 8 and charged with a Class A misdemeanor for assault with bodily injury. He was not seen at the Bears’ past two football games against Oklahoma and Kansas State.

A statement released by Baylor on Tuesday said that, “Baylor Athletics was made aware of the post-game incident involving Heath Nielsen shortly after the game and took immediate action to address it with him through the University’s human resources process. We will continue to handle this personnel matter internally.”

Nielsen, who is currently out on bond, was hired at Baylor in 2000, and according to baylorbears.com, “is responsible for all communications strategies, publicity and brand management for BU’s 19-sport athletics department.” Before beginning his role as associate athletic director, Nielson served for six years as Baylor’s director of athletic media relations and another six years as the assistant athletic director of communications.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by KWTX, Nielsen confronted James McBride, reporter for The Blaze News in Keller, on the field while he was taking a photograph with a Baylor football player.

McBride said to police that Nielsen grabbed him by the throat with his right hand, squeezed and pushed him away from the football player.

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.”

“I had asked the player if I could take a photo with him. He said, ‘Yes,’” McBride said on Monday.

“I was leaning back to take the photo. I heard somebody who I didn’t know at this point in time yell from my right-hand side, saying, ‘No interviews on the field,’” McBride said.

“About that time, they came in and tomahawk-chopped, trying to knock the phone that I had taken the picture with out of my hand. They were unsuccessful in trying to do that, and when they couldn’t do that they came up and they grabbed my throat, and I pulled back. Whenever I looked up, I saw that it was Heath Nielsen,” McBride said.

According to McBride, Nielsen said, “You’ll never f—ing work in this business again. You’re abusing your privileges on the field.”

This is not the first time Nielsen has found himself in trouble. In October 2014, Nielsen was fined $1,000 by the Big 12 conference after he made Twitter comments about the officiating during the Baylor game against West Virginia.