Category Archives: Crime and Punishment

Baby did a bad, bad thing.

The Sam Ukwuachu affair just gets curiouser and curiouser.  Art Briles has strongly suggested that Chris Peterson and Boise State did not offer him or anyone else at Baylor details about Ukwuachu’s checkered past.  Yet, according to SI.com’s Evans and Thamel, somebody else sure got word about it.

Florida considered taking Ukwuachu in May 2013, but then-Gators coach Will Muschamp decided against it after a Boise State athletic department employee detailed Ukwuachu’s troubles with a girlfriend, according to two former Florida athletic department employees.

That included the former freshman All-America defensive end’s alleged physical abuse of his girlfriend and an allegation that Ukwuachu put his fist through a window while drunk at the couple’s home, one of the ex-staffers said. (Ukwuachu was not charged in either incident.)

“There was no way,” one of the former Florida employees told The Inside Read of Ukwuachu. “[Muschamp] wouldn’t touch him.”

… “Just a bad situation,” one of the former Florida staffers said. “It just wasn’t good.”

Ukwuachu also wasn’t completely forthcoming with Florida about his relationship with his former girlfriend, the former Gators athletic department employee said. But the Boise State athletic department employee was clear about Ukwuachu’s issues, according to the former Florida staffer.

Said the ex-Florida official: “There was absolutely no doubt.”

First of all, good on Boom and Florida to walk away after due diligence.

Second, it sounds like Ken Starr needs to add somebody to Baylor’s witness list.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Crime and Punishment

Before you get too smug, SEC…

With regard to all the back patting that the SEC did in the wake of passing its no transfer “Jonathan Taylor” rule, it’s worth considering what Dan Wolken wrote in response to the Sam Ukwuachu debacle unfolding at Baylor:

And yet, given what we know, it isn’t clear-cut that even the SEC’s new transfer rule would have prevented one of their schools from accepting Ukwuachu. Again, no police report, no formal university discipline.

Rules or no rules, in the end, it boils down to coaches, or the athletic directors those coaches allegedly answer to, having enough of a moral compass to look past the short-term goal of winning.  Especially the latter, who often seem to lack the balls to deal with the pressure coming from successful coaches.

The problem, though, is that too many schools have yielded too much power over those decisions to coaches who risk nothing by taking the player (“Hey, if he screws up, we can just dismiss him”) and have very little incentive to say no.

As long as there’s an envelope to push, there’s always a head coach out there willing to take that chance.

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment

He said, he said.

My first reaction to the whole Art Briles – Chris Peterson dust up about what the former was told about Sam Ukwuachu in the process of Baylor deciding to admit him was the Briles had made a mistake dragging Peterson into the mess.  But the more I think about it, the more I think it may be a rather clever attempt at deflection.  Instead of focusing on what happened once Ukwuachu arrived in Waco, everyone is parsing the words of the two coaches.

Even so, when you get down to what everyone knew, it’s still not so great for Baylor as this Texas Monthly follow up summarizes in its conclusion:

While we don’t know exactly what was said between Briles and Petersen, there is evidence that Petersen knew the extent of Ukwuachu’s actions in May 2013 and that he took it seriously enough at the time to immediately dismiss Ukwuachu from the team. We also know that the discipline enforced by Petersen wasn’t a question asked by Baylor on the form distributed to media on Friday evening. There are a number of questions remaining, but the nature of Sam Ukwuachu’s final days at Boise State—and who knew the details—is not among them.

In other words, Peterson may have chosen his words carefully, while Briles and Baylor were equally careful in choosing not to read between the lines.  I expect there’s more to come on that front, and it probably won’t be pretty.

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When the Georgia Way meets the Process

Is there a Second Chance U for football support staff members?

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

Ken Starr is on the mother.

As the horse is already out of the barn, ordinarily I’d say this’ll turn out to be your garden-variety whitewash

Baylor University will conduct an investigation into the school’s handling of sexual assault allegations against a football player who was allowed to transfer into coach Art Briles’ program despite a history of disciplinary problems at Boise State.

Following the conviction of defensive end Sam Ukwuachu on sexual assault charges, Baylor President Ken Starr on Friday called for a “comprehensive internal inquiry into the circumstances associated with the case and the conduct of the offices involved.”

… but given Starr’s track record in other highly publicized settings, who knows where things may lead?

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Why do schools turn a blind eye? Because they can.

The most depressing thing about the news of Baylor’s Sam Ukwuachu being found guilty of sexual assault is that I’m finding it ever harder to summon my outrage over the school’s callous behavior in admitting him in the first place.

In documents from May 2013 obtained by Texas Monthly, Marc Paul, the assistant athletics director at Boise State University, recounts advising to Ukwuachu’s then-girlfriend in Boise that she stay away from the house the two shared for several nights, after he put his fist through a window while drunk. Paul also makes plans for how to get police protection for the couple’s other housemate, who received threatening text messages from Ukwuachu. Handwritten notes in a document from a Boise State source also refer to times that Ukwuachu would get verbally abusive over “small irritants” like a spilled drink, and note that the woman he lived with acknowledged that she would “probably not” admit it if the abuse were physical. It ends with the words “NOT healthy relationship!” underlined.

Following the incident with the window, Ukwuachu—just a year removed from his Freshman All-American season—was kicked off the team by Boise State head coach Chris Petersen for repeated violations of team rules.

The same month, in an interview with football recruiting website Rivals.com after he announced his transfer to Baylor, Ukwuachu talked about returning home to his native Texas. He said he had gone through “some personal problems” and that the coaching staff at Baylor “knew everything and were really supportive.” It’s impossible to know what Ukwuachu means by “everything,” but six-foot-four pass rushers who are voted Freshman All-American and win starting jobs on programs the quality of Boise State’s don’t often find themselves suddenly without a team. Regardless of whether Ukwuachu’s statement that Baylor’s coaches “knew everything” is accurate, when the program sought a waiver that would have allowed Ukwuachu to play for the Bears without waiting the mandatory one-year period required of most transfer students, Boise State informed the school that they would not be providing a letter of support.

I mean, Jesus, Baylor, what kind of a red flag do you need?

And it only got worse from there, as the rest of that Texas Monthly story indicates.

Still, I’m little more than numb about this by now.  And I think it’s because I know nothing’s going to come of it, at least in the big picture.  Sure, there will be a lawsuit.  Baylor will fight it for a while and then quietly settle out of court.  There might be some Title IX consequences, which the school will try to deflect with nonsense like this…

We have established and fully staffed a Title IX office that employs a Title IX Coordinator and two full-time investigators. Maintaining a safe and caring community is central to Baylor’s mission and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff.

That’s mighty big of you, since that’s what the law requires.

And there will be the pious rendition we’re grown accustomed to hearing in matters such as this.

Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators.

And then they’ll go sign the next high school All-American with a checkered past they run across if they think it’ll help the program.  Because in the end, they don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong here.  Just ask the coach:

Baylor head coach Art Briles told reporters, “I like the way we’ve handled it as a university, an athletic department, and a football program.”

*********************************************************************

UPDATE:  Oops, forgot about deflection.

No fucking shame.

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UPDATE #2:  Evidently no fucking truth, either.

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Barney Fife, in the Pacific Northwest

I have to admit I’ve gotten a lot more mileage out of that college arrest list posted on Twitter yesterday than I expected.  First, I posted something about it, then I posted something about Jeff Schultz posting about it, then I had a fun give-and-take on Twitter with Schultz about our posts.

And the gift just keeps on giving with this post I found yesterday at a Washington State blog.  (Wazzou, as you may recall from the tweet, finished first on the list.)  As I noted in my post about it, one thing the list is a little weak on is how it elevates quantity over quality.  That’s something Cougcenter jumps all over:

A few examples!

If you’re a Georgia fan, some of that sounds eerily familiar.  Although maybe it’s not that eerie when you think about it.

First, if your university is located in a small town where the majority of the residents are college students and the local police readily admit that they take a “proactive” stance toward making arrests for minor infractions committed by that specific population which tends to do more dumb things than the population at large, well, your arrests are naturally going to skew upward.

That is straight out of the Jimmy Williamson playbook.  And this sounds pretty familiar, too.

Beyond differences in philosophy of policing, the data relies on comprehensive and accurate reporting on arrests/citations/charges. Not every school has a reporter mining police reports everyday for infractions, and not every school has publications that find all of those infractions newsworthy enough to write about.

Throw in a dollop of “I’m my own man, and no pointy necked administrator’s gonna tell me how to run my department” (or, as Seth Emerson put it, “People forget that one of the first things Greg McGarity did five years ago was meet with UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson. No such deal came out of that, and the arrest rate didn’t go down.”) and there you go.

Speaking of playbooks, I can’t help but wonder if there’s an analogue between small-town constabulary and football coaches who visit other programs during the offseason to pick up insights on how to improve.  I can see it now:  “Jimmy, we’ve got that false name business down cold, but how did you guys work that no middle name thing so well?”  “I hear what you’re saying about emerging from an alley, Jimmy, but I’m having a hard time seeing how it works.  Can you diagram the play for me on that white board?”  “So you ignored a law by claiming that you didn’t understand how it applied to your department and didn’t seek guidance?  Cool!  How far can you push that envelope, anyway?”

Professionalism, bitches.

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