UT, Vols the subject of federal sexual violence investigation

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You can add Tennessee to the growing number of universities who are the focus of a federal investigation connected to allegations of improper responses to reports of on- and off-campus sexual assaults.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), The Tennessean is reporting, has launched an investigation into sexual violence at UT. The investigation, the paper stated, commenced on June 29.

In an email sent to faculty, staff and students, chancellor Jimmy Cheek vowed that the university “will cooperate fully with [the] OCR as it investigates the complaint.”

Over the past several months, it’s been reported across multiple media platforms that three Vols football players have been connected to sexual assault allegations while they were still members of the football team.

Following an investigation by local law enforcement that began in November of last year, then-current UT cornerback Michael Wil liams and former UT linebacker A.J. Johnson were indicted in mid-February by a Knox County grand jury on two counts each of aggravated rape.  Both pleaded not guilty a month later, although Johnson had already seen his invitation to the NFL combine rescinded while it was reported in June that the Vols had “moved on” from Williams.

According to reports that surfaced in mid-November, a 19-year-old UT student claimed that Johnson and Williams raped her at the former’s residence in a Knoxville apartment complex. The unnamed woman claimed that the assault lasted 45 minutes, and occurred during the course of a party being held following UT’s win over Kentucky.

Another 19-year-old woman claimed she was sexually assaulted at the same location around the same time by Williams.

The first woman was treated at the UT Medical Center. The second alleged victim declined treatment and headed back to her home in Florida. She also initially declined to pursue charges despite claims of being sexually assaulted, but did cooperate with the grand jury.

Then, in late April of this year, reports surfaced that wide receiver Von Pearson was a suspect in the investigation of an alleged rape.  Pearson has been indefinitely suspended by head coach Butch Jones, although no charges have been filed and no arrests made in connection to the alleged sexual assault.

Those are the three that have been well-publicized and chronicled; according to The Tennessean, however, there are three other Vols football players who were on the roster in 2014 who have been accused of sexual assault.

In April of 2013, running back Marlin Lane, whose eligibility expired after the 2014 season, was on the receiving end of what turned out to be a two-month suspension that was attributed to “disciplinary reasons.” The paper writes that “Lane… was named as a suspect in the rape of an 18-year-old high school student in Lane’s dorm room on April 9, 2013,” four days before his suspension. No charges were filed after the alleged victim declined to pursue the case.

In February of this year, Riyahd Jones, who was on the team in 2014 but is no longer a part of the team, was named as a suspect in a sexual assault that was reported to the Knoxville police. The Tennessean writes that “[n]o charges have been filed, and police have declined to provide a copy of the full police report, saying that the district attorney’s office could still decide to pursue charges.”

The last of the sixth is explained by the paper thusly:

In September a football player was named in a sexual assault complaint made to university officials by a freshman woman, according to an internal university investigation and emails from university officials obtained by The Tennessean. University officials investigated the case and issued a finding that no assault occurred and the incident was instead consensual sex. The player remains in good standing on the team. The Tennessean is not naming the football player because he has not been publicly accused and no police report was filed.

In addition to UT, Florida State and Vanderbilt are the subject of federal investigations into how they handled reports of sexual assault. Both of those probes are in part connected to the football programs at the respective universities.

Kellen Mond and Texas A&M teasing classic uniform look for Aggies?

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Texas A&M has had a number of uniforms over the years, mostly with slight variations from one another during the course of the season. And while there have been some really good looks and some truly awful ones, it never hurts any program to go back to the basics. And unless Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond and athletics director Ross Bjork are just pulling our chains, it seems the Aggies could be bringing back a classic design this upcoming season.

The fire was lit on the wild speculation when Mond retweeted a message on Twitter from the Barstool Sports Texas A&M account reflecting on the classic uniform design of the Aggies.

When someone else on Twitter directed this response from Mond to Bjork, Bjork seemed to play along.

The hope is Texas A&M will make their main home uniform look closer to the look used in the 1990s, with a slightly larger “Texas A&M” block lettering across the front of the jersey and the removal of the bezel numbering. And, of course, making sure there are no stripes on the shoulders. The throwback look did make a return to the Aggies last season, so hopefully those designs get promoted to more regular use whenever college football is played in College Station.

Sometimes less is more. In the case of Texas A&M football uniforms, that should be the guiding principle in the design process.

Toledo head coach Jason Candle treats first responders to free lunches

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Times are tough for local businesses around the country right now, which is why Toledo head coach Jason Candle chose to do some goodwill in his local community.

After hearing about the economic struggles of Ed Beczynski, a local restaurant owner who has provided catered meals for Toledo football, Candle stepped in to help him out while providing some free meals for police and firefighters in Toledo. Candle bought lunch from Buczynski’s deli for the Toledo Police department and four local fire stations in Toledo.

“First and foremost, I wanted to help the people out on the frontlines,” Candle said in a phone interview last week, according to Yahoo! Sports. “But I really wanted to use it as a way to spark other people to get involved, too. These are tough times, uncertain times. I thought it was a way to try and make a small difference.”

The act certainly inspired others to do the same. Beczynski says orders have been flying in since Candle’s act of kindness, both for standard food orders and for similar orders to provide to first responders and those in the medical field fighting the coronavirus pandemic firsthand.

FAU TE John Raine enters transfer portal

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One of FAU’s top receiving targets from 2019 could be on the move. Owls tight end John Raine has reportedly entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal database. Adam Rittenberg of ESPN was among the first to report the transfer portal update, via Twitter.

As a graduate transfer, Raines will be eligible to play this fall for whatever team he ends up joining. Last season, Raines caught 38 passes for 343 yards and six touchdowns, the second-most touchdown receptions on the team last fall.

FAU will certainly be a program in transition in 2020 with a new head coach and coaching staff. FAU is now losing four of its top five receivers from last season due to graduation or transfer. One of those leading receivers from last season was tight end Harrison Bryant, who is considered among the top tight end prospects in the NFL draft. No other tight ends caught a pass for the Owls in 2019.

 

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on April 5, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2018

THE HEADLINE: Bear Bryant’s great-grandson commits to play for Alabama
THE SYNOPSIS: Paul Tyson was rated as a four-star 2019 recruit on the 247Sports.com composite.  The Alabama coaching legend’s kin took a redshirt for his true freshman season after appearing in one game.  He’ll be a part of the competition to replace Tua Tagovailoa under center.  If when prep work for the 2020 campaign restarts, of course.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Ohio State committee approves two-year extension for Urban Meyer
THE SYNOPSIS: The extension would’ve kept Meyer in Columbus through the 2022 season.  Instead, eight months later, Meyer announced he was retiring at the end of the 2018 season.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Penn State trustee who was “running out of sympathy” for “so-called victims” of Jerry Sandusky not seeking second term
THE SYNOPSIS: For once, the shipdit made the right call.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Ex-Oklahoma football player accused of pimping out former Sooner cheerleader
THE SYNOPSIS: There’s a headline you don’t see every day.  Lawrence Moore was a 2013 signee.  The cornerback played in two games as a true freshman for Oklahoma before leaving the program.  Micah Madison Parker was a member of OU’s cheerleading squad during Moore’s lone season with the Sooners.

2015

THE HEADLINE: UGA’s three-man QB battle whittled down to two?
THE SYNOPSIS: Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park entered the spring as part of the under-center competition.  Exiting, it was down to Bauta and Ramsey.  In the end, neither started the opener.  That honor instead went to Greyson Lambert, who transferred in from Virginia in June.

2012

THE HEADLINE: Updated: Bobby Petrino placed on administrative leave
THE SYNOPSIS: Earlier in the day, the then-Arkansas head coach claimed he was alone on his motorcycle when he wrecked earlier in the month.  As it turned out, a female who wasn’t his wife was on the bike with him.  Jessica Dorrell became the student-athlete development coordinator for football the previous month.  Five days later, Petrino, who admitted to an affair with Dorrell, was fired.

2012

THE HEADLINE: USC it is: top ’13 QB tabs Trojans over Sooners, Tide, Huskies
THE SYNOPSIS: Max Browne chose USC over Oklahoma, Alabama and home-state Washington.  Redshirting as a true freshman, Browne spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons as Cody Kessler’s primary backup. After winning the starting job in 2016, Browne lost his job to Sam Darnold following a 1-2 start.  A few months later, Browne transferred to Pitt.

2010

THE HEADLINE: Big Ten ‘super conference’ talk gaining momentum?
THE SYNOPSIS: The rumor du jour was that the Big Ten would move to 16 teams.  11 teams at the time, the Midwestern conference would instead add just three additional schools.  Nebraska in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.