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.

Win over Grambling approved, Cal officially becomes bowl eligible

Jared Goff
Associated Press
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Earlier today we had the report that Cal, they of the normally bowl-eligible six wins on the season, were not actually bowl eligible. The hang up was due to some NCAA red tape on how many scholarships Grambling, a 73-14 victim to the Bears on opening Saturday, had actually awarded this year.

Why the number of scholarships awarded by an opponent of a 6-5 team could determine what glorified exhibition said 6-5 could or could not play is a matter for another time, but the fact is it mattered.

But according to a report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com, the Bears received approval to count the win toward their total, meaning Sonny Dykes and company will go bowling for the first time since 2011.

“We have conferred with both Grambling and the NCAA,” Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told ESPN. “As anticipated, Grambling has confirmed their football program has met the 90 percent financial aid requirement over the rolling two-year average. Therefore, Cal football’s win over Grambling counts toward bowl eligibility. Cal football is bowl eligible.”

The Bears have a chance to become bowl eligible the old fashioned way with a win over Arizona State Saturday in Berkeley.


Tulane reportedly set to fire head coach Curtis Johnson

Curtis Johnson
Associated Press
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The end of the college football regular season brings with it bowl bids, conference championship entries and rivalry games. Along the way, though, come end-of-season firings. So many end of-season firings.

According to a report from Dan Wolken of USA Today Wednesday night, the first one is already on the books. Or at least close to it.

Wolken reports Tulane is set to part ways with head coach Curtis Johnson following the Green Wave’s Friday finale against Tulsa “barring a last-minute change of direction.”

Johnson is 15-33 in nearly four complete seasons at Tulane, reaching a high point of a 7-6 mark wtih a New Orleans Bowl appearance in 2013 but winning two, three and three games in his other three campaigns.

If and when the move becomes official, Tulane will become the 15th FBS school to change head coaches this season, matching the total number of changes during the 2014-15 cycle.

Wolken reports Tulane will hire a new athletics director within the next week, and once that hiring is complete the school will then embark on hiring Johnson’s replacement.

Reports: Michigan DC D.J. Durkin a “strong candidate” for Maryland vacancy

D.J. Durkin
Associated Press
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Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has emerged a “strong candidate” for the Maryland job, according to reports from Yahoo‘s Pat Forde and Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman Wednesday.

“Durkin, 37, met recently with Maryland officials, sources said,” Forde wrote. “No job offer was made, but the interview went well, sources said.”

Added Feldman:

Durkin is in his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, helping the 9-2 Wolverines jump from 14th to third nationally in yards per play allowed (4.77 to 4.15) and 27th to sixth in scoring defense (22.4 to 14.9).

Prior to working on Jim Harbaugh‘s staff, Durkin served as Will Muschamp‘s defensive coordinator at Florida for two years, and as his special teams coordinator for two years before that. He previously worked at Stanford, Bowling Green (his alma mater) and Notre Dame.

Should he be offered and accept the job, Durkin would immediately become Big Ten East rivals with his mentor Harbaugh.

“This week is so important to our guys, my 100% focus is on this game and our players — that’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the job you have week in and week out. It’s a tough task, especially with this team we have this week,” Durkin told the Detroit Free Press when asked about the reports.

“My goal is to get the best game plan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well. To answer rumors or speculation right now and put something to it, my total focus is 100% on Ohio State and nothing else.”

Illini to decide on fate of interim head coach Bill Cubit by Sunday

Bill Cubit
Associated Press
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Illinois will decide whether or not to retain interim head coach Bill Cubit for the full-time job by Sunday, interim AD Paul Kowalczyk told WSKJ-FM Wednesday.

“We need to make that call and figure out which way we’re going for everyone’s sake,” Kowalczyk said, via the Chicago Tribune. “For me, it’s posthaste.”

Illinois closes its regular season Saturday against No. 16 Northwestern in Champaign. The Illini are 5-6 on the year and, for what it’s worth, Cubit desperately wants the job.

Also worth noting: the athletics department is operating under a total state of dysfunction in the wake of AD Mike Thomas‘s firing.

From 670 The Score in Chicago on Wednesday:

Sources tell 670 The Score that as overwhelmed university officials are dithering and providing little guidance, the group of trustees, boosters and alums left to run things can’t yet agree on much.  Some want to hire a search firm with a spotty recent track record, others want to form their own search committee, while another faction thinks they need to act faster by using their own contacts to target specific AD and coaching candidates right now and just get moving.

Any support for retaining Bill Cubit is getting strong push-back from those who don’t believe he wasn’t aware of Tim Beckman’s aberrant behavior, and from some who feel strongly about making a more dynamic hire.

For those keeping score at home: Illinois is dealing with a power vacuum of trustees, boosters and alums battling for control while an interim chancellor and interim athletics director work to reach a resolution on an interim football coach.

And the coaching carousel starts spinning in full four days from now.