ESPN and other news outlets are reporting that two University of Texas football players are being investigated by police for their roles in an alleged sexual assault at a hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The Longhorns are scheduled to play Oregon State on Saturday at the Alamo Bowl.
Quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks have been suspended and sent home a day before the game. According to a school administrator, the two broke team rules.
However, KENS-TV reported that San Antonio Police were investigating a sexual assault allegation involving two Texas football players. According to the TV station, police were called to the Texas team hotel after a 21-year-old woman claimed she had just been raped by two football players:
According to a police report, the alleged victim was an “acquaintance” with at least one of the players she met up with while partying at a nightclub. The woman told officers she had several alcoholic drinks with the men before they went to the hotel bar at the Holiday Inn. She told officers she then invited both men back to her hotel room, where the alleged sexual assault occurred. Police said the woman was sobbing alongside a friend when they met with her. Officers also noted that she smelled strongly of alcohol, according to the police report. The friend told officers the alleged victim had left the bar with the two men just 30 minutes before she had returned to the room to meet back up.
No charges have been filed. A San Antonio police spokesman said that detectives are in the early stages of investigating the case and are interviewing witnesses and collecting forensic evidence. The alleged victim was seen by a sexual assault nurse examiner, according to the report.
In this type of situation, schools like Texas need to develop process for dealing with and reporting allegations of sexual crimes involving students. One of the problems is that University investigators associated with athletic departments are not trained to deal with sexual assault allegations. Instead, they are trained to deal with NCAA compliance issues.
Ohio schools have recently had to deal with allegations of sexual assault by students. In general, their response has been less than ideal.
At Xavier, we noted that the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file sex crime charges against former Xavier basketball player Dez Wells. However, Wells was expelled from Xavier. The Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney, Joe Deters criticized the process used by the school. He said, “There is something seriously flawed with a procedure where a young man and his accuser appear before a group of people, which I would suggest probably isn’t very well trained in assessing these types of cases, and they sit there and tell their stories.”
At Miami University, we noted that the school faced a controversy when someone posted a flier titled “How To Get Away With Rape” in a men’s bathroom. The flier received additional attention because at least 27 sexual assaults had been reported at the school from 2009 through 2011. Some students complained that a sexual assault prevention coordinator position has been vacant for a year and questioned whether the problem on campus was deeper than simply a poster.
Texas should learn from the example of Xavier and Miami and employ outside investigators to examine significant allegations of wrongdoing in college athletics. When an institution faces potentially serious allegations, the use of internal staff, whether in the compliance office or otherwise, to undertake an investigation creates two problems: first, the use of internal staff may create the appearance of a conflict of interest because the staff is not independent from the institution; second, internal staff may not have the resources or experience necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of serious allegations, especially where possible law enforcement issues are involved.
By using external investigators, institutions can avoid the inevitable criticism that it should not be “investigating itself” or “policing itself.”