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Jun 17, 2013 7:40 PM by Matthew Schwartz

UA coach takes offensive against assault charges, files defamation suit

TUCSON - The University of Arizona coach who was charged last month with assaulting a student is taking the offensive.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Frank Davis has filed a defamation suit against the alleged victim.

"I can't tell you how bad it is, when you have a story, and you don't tell the truth," Davis' attorney, Brian Laird, said.

Davis, a 31-year old first year strength and conditioning coach with the Wildcats, pleaded not guilty last month to criminal assault. The 6'4", 300 lb. former NFL lineman allegedly punched and body-slammed football team student assistant Brandon Santa-Cruz.

It happened after the Wildcats suffered a brutal home loss to rival ASU last November. Last month, Santa-Cruz, in an exclusive interview, told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that Coach Davis became enraged because Santa-Cruz didn't know what was in the post-game meal boxes.

Santa-Cruz claimed after the two exchanged words , "A few seconds pass and then someone punches me in the chest. and so I stumbled backwards and I turn to go see who it was and it was Frank. and then Frank picks me up and throws me over...there was like water bottles and stuff behind me...throws me over them and I stumbled down to the floor. So at that point I laid there and I didn't know what to do. "

Santa-Cruz says he suffered burn marks and a bruised sternum. However the lawsuit states Santa-Cruz lied during an interview with News 4 last month. And there's more: Santa-Cruz has filed a complaint against the state, the UA and Frank Davis, seeking $250,000.

"I am happy Mr. Davis will give me the opportunity to get to the truth. We shall get our day in court," Santa-Cruz's attorney, Rudy Valenzuela, said in an email.

"There was no assault, there was no battery." Davis' attorney, Brian Laird, insists,

"Are you saying this is all about money?" News 4 Investigator Matt Schwartz asked.

"Yes," Laird replied.

Santa-Cruz says he waited six months to file charges because he hoped Davis would apologize, and when he didn't that, the University would take stronger action.

Davis was suspended with pay by UA shortly after the incident. His contract expires on June 30 and we've learned that it won't be renewed. His lawyer claims the publicity from all this has cost him a job at another major university.News 4 Tucson will provide updates on both the criminal and civil cases as soon as they happen.

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