Independent report critical of Mizzou’s response to alleged rape

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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.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.

Edgerrin James’ nephew to transfer from Miami

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Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players  suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia.  Nearly four months later, he’s gone.

In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.

“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class.  247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.

The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.

Georgia ‘parts ways’ with four-star 2017 signee accused of assaulting mother of his child

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Not surprisingly, D’Antne Demery‘s time Between the Hedges was a brief one.

Earlier Sunday, reports surfaced that the 2017 Georgia signee had been arrested Saturday night in downtown Athens on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and simple battery.  The alleged victim, the mother of Demery’s one-year-old child, accused the recruit of assaulting her twice, the first time, after a verbal argument, by “grabbing her on the back of her neck… pushing her against the wall, and also grabbing her by the hair” and the second after allegedly throwing her.

Not surprisingly, UGA subsequently announced in a press release that Demery has been released from his signed National Letter of Intent. In other words, he has been summarily dismissed from Kirby Smart‘s football program.

Demery was a four-star 2017 recruit, rated as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the country; the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 204 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Th 6-5, 319-pound lineman was one of 18 four-star players in Smart’s second recruiting class at the school.

After signing in February, Demery had been scheduled to report with the rest of the incoming freshmen in June.

Tom Herman pulls California QB recruit Cameron Rising away from Oklahoma

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Tom Herman has made his share of news since his late November arrival in Austin, but Saturday evening was probably the first time his Big 12 and national rivals perked up and took notice of the new Texas head coach for something that will happen on the field of play.

The Longhorns landed a commitment from Newbury Park, Calif., quarterback Cameron Rising, which would be news in and of itself. The 6-foot-3 signal caller is rated the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 52 player nationally by Rivals for the class of 2018, making him the highest-rated player in Texas’s 4-man class.

But Rising’s pledge is especially notable for where he was already committed: Oklahoma. Rising had been committed to Oklahoma since August and publicly firmed up his pledge as recently as January. “I’m extremely happy (with the decision),” Rising said at the time. “The program is so good, they’re moving in the right direction. They had a slow start but then they picked it up and it was like a warm nice through butter.”

Herman’s tweet brings up an interesting point: the quarterback Oklahoma is most likely to target to replace Rising is the other Texas quarterback pledge.

Casey Thompson, hailing from Moore, Okla., became the first Texas quarterback commitment just nine days before Rising. Beyond just living in the Sooner State, Thompson is also the son of a former Sooner and the brother of another.

In fact, Oklahoma waisted no time in reaching out to Thompson. “OU hit me up already,” Thompson told Burnt Orange Nation, but Thompson indicated Herman and company told him ahead of time Texas would sign two quarterbacks.

And in a note the Texas coaches have likely reminded Thompson of in the past 24 hours, they offered Thompson before Rising. “Me and the [Texas] coaches have a very good relationship. I knew they planned to take 2 from the jump. Their current QB room is thin!”

Oklahoma may very well retaliate to Herman’s plunder with a steal of their own. But the point is Herman has arrived in the Red River Recruiting Wars, and he’s playing to win.