Mike Alden

Independent report critical of Mizzou’s response to alleged rape


A bad week for Missouri football specifically and the university in general is not getting any better as we head into the weekend.

In late January, ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported that Missouri did not investigate or contact police regarding an alleged sexual assault involving at least one football player and may have led to the suicide of a Tigers swimmer in 2011.  Mizzou disputed the report, claiming that no university officials were unaware of the December of 2011 rape allegations until a year after Sasha Menu Courey committed suicide when, at the request of the family, it found an email exchange mentioning the alleged assault.

Around the time the Columbia Police Department opened an investigation into the alleged rape, the university announced it was launching an independent investigation into the school’s handling of the situation.  The contents of that report were released Friday and, while the university’s actions — or inaction — was not found to be in violation of the law, it was concluded that Mizzou did “not act in accordance with what would be expected of a university with a robust Title IX compliance program.”

Title IX was a theme woven extensively throughout the report, which took the university to task for having a lackluster equity program.  For those who would like to read the complete report, click HERE.  For those searching for a synopsis, here’s the Columbia Tribune‘s detailing of what was contained in the report:

The counsel’s report highlights four conclusions: the university failed to have Title IX policies in place for its employees, contrary to the Department of Education’s guidance on Title IX; the university should have acted on the information it had in November 2012 about Menu Courey’s rape allegations; a Tribune article published in February 2012 indicating a diary mention from Menu Courey related to a sexual assault should have been provided to the Title IX coordinator; and finally, that there is no definitive conclusion that university employees were aware of Menu Courey’s assault while she was alive, aside from medical personnel.

Neither the Title IX coordinator nor the university police department of the alleged rape even as the university, the report stated, was in possession of at least two documents containing Menu Courey’s allegations of a sexual assault/rape.  When document was an email transcript of Menu Courey’s conversation with a National Sexual Assault Hotline employee in which she identified her assailants as two unnamed football players.  The names of the football players who may have been involved in the alleged assault have not been released, at least publicly.

The second document, the Tribune wrote, “was a questionnaire that indicated Menu Courey responded to a question about whether she had suffered a traumatic event by saying she was ‘raped by an acquaintance February 2010.'”

We probably dropped the ball,” a university official told investigators, by way of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, regarding the lack of a clear reporting policy according to the report.  Despite the apparent mishandling of the situation, it doesn’t appear, at this point in time, that the feds have gotten involved:

While the federal government is not a part of the equation, the local media is and is beginning to bang a drum no university or athletic department wants to hear. “String of incidents at Missouri puts athletic culture on trial,” was the headline in the Kansas City Star Friday morning, with the stern rebuke written by Sam Mellinger concluding with “[i]t’s just that based on the last few months, each side has lost the benefit of the doubt” when it comes to “tough love, guidance and motivation” for troubled players like Dorian Green-Beckham.

And not to pick on Green-Beckham; six of the wide receiver’s football teammates and eight men’s basketball players have been arrested since January.  By all appearances and by just about any measure, there are issues surrounding the athletic culture at Mizzou that need to be addressed by the grownups in the building sooner rather than later before things really get out of control.

Starting LB C.J. Johnson reveals surgery on social media, Ole Miss confirms

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Ole Miss will be without a starting piece of its defensive puzzle for an extended period of time, both the player and the school revealed Tuesday.

With rumors swirling about his condition, C.J. Johnson confirmed on his personal Twitter account late this morning that he will be undergoing surgery at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The linebacker sustained an injury to his left knee in last Saturday’s loss to Florida and did not return to the contest.

Subsequent to that posting, Ole Miss confirmed that Johnson underwent surgery earlier in the day to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.  The procedure and rehab will sideline Johnson for a period of 4-6 weeks.

At the low-end of the prognosis, Johnson would miss the next four games — New Mexico State, Memphis, Texas A&M, Auburn — and return for the Nov. 7 game against Arkansas.  The high-end would have him sidelined until the regular-season finale against Mississippi State.

Johnson had started all five games at middle linebacker for the Rebels.  He started 26 games at defensive end the past three years before moving to linebacker.

Butch Jones labels rumor of ‘physical altercation’ with Vols player ‘absolutely ridiculous’

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers yells at Marquez North #8 during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Already in the crosshairs for his 2-3 team’s late-game failures, Butch Jones now finds himself under increasing scrutiny for something that allegedly happened a couple of months ago.

The website Gridiron.com, which features such respected journalists Tony Barnhart and Mike Huguenin among others, reported earlier today that the Tennessee head coach was involved in what was described as a “physical altercation” with senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder during summer camp this past August.  The source close to the program added that practice film that day captured the alleged incident, although it’s unclear if that tapes still exists.

From the site’s report:

The incident occurred during fall camp, about the time that news started to come out about a few offensive linemen who were considering stepping away from the program. Crowder walked off the practice field one day and missed a day or two of practice, and Brett Kendrick and Dylan Wiesman were said to be contemplating their futures. Sources say the players’ actions stemmed from an incident between Jones and Crowder.

The website also made a Freedom of Information request seeking any correspondence between the university and the Crowder family be turned over, but writes that UT “administrators said any sort of letter or correspondence that may or may not have happened was covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.”

Monday, Jones labeled what began as message-board speculation that he had struck one of his Vols players as “absolutely ridiculous.” The Knoxville News Sentinel contacted Crowder’s father, with the paper writing that “he had no comment and did not want to give validation to message boards.”

At least publicly, the university has yet to address the allegations.  Jones will get yet another chance to address the speculation with the media in the very near future.