A sketchy, shadowy situation involving a prominent former member of USC’s football program has added another layer.
Earlier this month, USC confirmed that, following a Title IX investigation, Matt Boermeester would not be returning to the team “because of a student code of conduct issue.” The announcement came a few months after, in early February, USC announced that an unspecified code of conduct issue had led to the placekicker’s indefinite suspension.
This weekend, Zoe Katz, Boermeester’s 22-year-old girlfriend and Trojans tennis player, publicly lashed out at the university’s decision, describing her still-current boyfriend’s removal from the team as “horrible and unjust” while saying the school’s Title IX probe made her feel “misled, harassed, threatened and discriminated against.” In the same statement, she stated that Boermeester “has been falsely accused of conduct involving me.”
The alleged incident that led to this turn of events was reported by a neighbor of Katz’s who was a member of the men’s tennis team to his head coach, who in turn reported the allegations to the school’s Title IX office.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Katz said she and Boermeester have dated for more than a year. The Title IX investigation began, Steigerwalt said, after a neighbor witnessed Boermeester and Katz roughhousing. The neighbor told his roommate, who told a coach in USC’s athletic department that Boermeester was abusing Katz. The coach then reported the incident to the Title IX office.
Katz said she was summoned to a mandatory meeting with Title IX officials, where she told investigators that the two were playing around. Katz was subsequently told that she “must be afraid of Matt,” she said. She told officials she was not. Boermeester has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
“When I told the truth about Matt, in repeated interrogations, I was stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled,” Katz said. “I understand that domestic violence is a terrible problem, but in no way does that apply to Matt and me.”
Katz said that she has “never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt.”
“Matt Boermeester did nothing improper against me, ever,” Katz said. “I would not stand for it. Nor will I stand for watching him be maligned and lied about.
According to the Orange County Register, Katz filed an appeal of the Title IX office’s ruling. Boermeester appealed the ruling as well, to no avail.
After those initial appeals were denied, the Register wrote, “Katz filed a separate complaint with the Title IX Office.” The status of that complaint is unclear.
In response to Katz’s very public and damning statement, USC issued its own statement that, on the surface, affords both Katz and Boermeester the opportunity to lay bare publicly what is, by law, a very private proceeding.
“USC stands by its investigation and the accounts provided by multiple witnesses,” the university said. “As previously stated, student disciplinary records are confidential. If the students involved waive their confidentiality rights, the university will offer a detailed response.”
In his first season as USC’s starting kicker last year after transferring in from a junior college, Boermeester connected on 75 percent of his 25 field goal attempts and all but one of his 54 point-afters. His 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock pushed USC past Penn State in an epic comeback win in the Rose Bowl.
The 18 field goals on which Boermeester connected in 2016 were one shy of tying the school’s single-season record. He would’ve been a redshirt senior this season.