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Lawyers Seek Coaches’ Texts In Vandy Rape Case

Vanderbilt_Franklin_Football_0d0c5This one’s just not going away, folks.

Tony Gonzalez of The Tennessean reports that “a new court filing in the case against four former Vanderbilt University football players charged with rape seeks evidence of text messages sent by coaches that lawyers for one of the ex-players think could shed light on what happened.”

Uh-oh.

While there have been rumors and speculation that coaches might have been involved in or had knowledge of the players’ attempted cover-up of the crime, this is the “first suggestion in court proceedings that members of the Vanderbilt staff might have had some level of involvement in the incident that would be relevant to the criminal investigation.”

According to the attorneys for ex-Commodore player Brandon Vandenburg, they have not been given access to all of the evidence in the case including “text messages from witnesses and coaches.”

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and VU athletic director David Williams declined comment on the court filing yesterday.  Vandy spokesperson Beth Fortune said via statement: “The issues raised by the latest court filing are a matter for the court to determine.  Vanderbilt has no role.”

In no way should this filing be taken as proof that Franklin or any of his assistants knew of the rape or attempted in any way to help their players cover-up the assault.  However, it does suggest that Vandenburg has informed his attorneys that he or someone else involved in the crime did have some level of text communication with “witnesses and coaches.”  The lawyers for Vandenburg could have easily said “witnesses” only.  Instead, the filing refers specifically to text messages from coaches as well.  It’s possible they could be fishing, but it’s more likely they believe some coach(es) spoke to some player(s).

It is hard to imagine employees at Vanderbilt attempting to aid in the cover-up of a crime, especially after the media tsunami that engulfed Penn State so recently.  At the same time, we are talking about human beings.  Human beings put into stressful situations sometimes do incredibly stupid things.  Pressure busts pipes, as they say.

For Franklin, this court filing couldn’t come at a worse time.  His team could finish 8-4 on the season (with wins over Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest) and go bowling for a third consecutive year.  But this will serve as yet another distraction that must be overcome (both during the season and on the recruiting trail).  Also, Franklin’s name has been mentioned in connection with the opening at Southern Cal, one of the top five jobs in America at a school with a bigger endowment than even Vanderbilt.

Whether Franklin or his staff had any involvement in this horrible incident or not, the mere possibility could cause Pat Haden and other ADs looking for a new coach to cross the name of Vandy’s man off their list.

 


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