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Grand jury declines to indict Heath Nielsen for alleged assault of reporter

A grand jury in Waco, Texas, declined to indict former Baylor associate athletic director Heath Nielsen, who was arrested and charged with allegedly assaulting a reporter on the field following the Bears' 62-22 loss to TCU at home on Nov. 5.

Nielsen's attorney, Michelle Simpson Tuegel, told ESPN that McLennan County prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury on Wednesday morning. Nielsen, who served as Baylor's sports information director for football until recently, was charged with misdemeanor assault with bodily injury.

"The jury returned a no bill, which means they refused to indict the case," Tuegel said. "The evidence was not consistent with what the complainant alleged. It did not show an assault as the accuser had claimed."

Baylor would not comment on Nielsen's status, but a source confirmed to ESPN that Nielsen has been dismissed by the school.

Heath confirmed his departure from the school Thursday, writing in a tweet that he has "resigned" from his position.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by KWTX-TV in November, Nielsen allegedly confronted reporter James McBride on the field while he was taking a photograph with an unidentified Baylor player.

McBride, who writes for The Blaze News in Keller, Texas, told police that Nielsen grabbed him by the throat with his right hand, squeezed and pushed him away from the football player.

The warrant said McBride had visible scratches on his neck and complained of pain around his throat.

"I had asked the player if I could take a photo with him [and] he said yes," McBride told KWTX. "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.'

"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."

Right after the incident, McBride said Nielsen told him, "You'll never [expletive] work in this business again. You're abusing your privileges on the field."

The warrant said photographs were taken of McBride's injuries, and security cameras at McLane Stadium recorded the incident. When Tuegel was asked on Wednesday if the video did not show Nielsen choking McBride, as was alleged to police, she replied, "That is accurate."

McBride and Nielsen didn't immediately answer requests for comment.

Nielsen worked at Baylor for 17 years, and his job duties included working directly with the Baylor football program and media. According to the school's website, Nielsen was "responsible for management of the public image of the program. Nielsen is the program's spokesman, the liaison between local and national media, and the primary contact with television and radio networks that broadcast Baylor games."

In October 2014, the Big 12 publicly reprimanded him for Twitter comments about officiating during the Baylor-West Virginia game. The conference fined the school $1,000 for his comments.