The latest addition to one FCS team comes with some off-field baggage, to say the least.
Jacksonville State confirmed Monday night that it has added Landon Rice to its football roster. The tight end had spent the 2017 season at a Mississippi junior college after parting ways with his original Power Five home under a cloud of controversy.
In early September of 2016, Rice left the Auburn football program for what were initially described as “personal reasons.” It was subsequently reported that Rice had been accused of first-degree rape.
A 19-year-old female filed a police report July 27, 2016, accusing Rice of raping her three months earlier at an on-campus residence hall and sought a protective order against him Sept. 12, with a temporary order issued three days later.
The attorney for Rice issued a statement shortly after the accusations came to light in which he labeled the allegations as “false” and that his client has been “vilified” and “unfairly treated” because of them. In response to that statement, the lawyer for the unnamed 19-year-old allegedly raped by Rice released a series of text messages between the player and alleged victim in which the former apologized to the latter on multiple occasions.
Rice had denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer; while he was never charged in connection with the allegations, a Title IX investigation found him to be responsible for sexual assault and, as a result, he was barred from the AU campus until 2024. However, those restrictions were rescinded in September of last year, which Landon’s new school alluded to in its statement on the player’s addition to the roster.
Jacksonville State University conducted a very thorough investigation surrounding all of the facts on Landon Rice, just like we do on any of our recruits. After speaking with several officials from Auburn University and getting all of the facts surrounding the investigation, and after meeting with Landon, we decided to allow Landon to enroll at JSU and join our football program.
“On September 26, 2017, all sanctions imposed upon Landon as a result of a Title IX investigation expired and Landon was returned to the status of ‘good standing’ at Auburn University. The matter and all proceedings therein have been concluded, according to a memo dated November 7, 2017, from Kelley Taylor, Director AA/EEO and Title IX Coordinator at Auburn University.
“We have high standards for all of our student-athletes and we do our due diligence on all recruits before they join any of our athletics teams at Jacksonville State and Landon was treated the same. Privacy laws prevents us from releasing more details on the investigation.
A four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, Rice was rated as the No. 8 tight end in the country. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice and was expected to contribute as a true freshman before the off-field issue derailed those plans.