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After Penn State, Would The NCAA Get Involved With Alleged Rape Charges At Missouri?

honest-opinionBy now you know of the ESPN “Outside The Lines” story detailing how a former Missouri swim team member alleged that she was raped by a Tiger football player and then spiraled downward until finally she committed suicide.  You probably also know that a friend of Sasha Menu Courey — former Mizzou receiver Rolandis Woodland — claims that he was emailed a tape of the incident — which has since been lost — by Menu Courey showing that three Missouri players raped her after a night of drinking in 2010.

You know that no one to date has presented evidence that University of Missouri officials knew of the allegations before Menu Courey’s death; that ESPN reported that school officials didn’t pursue the allegations or inform police when they did learn of the claims after Menu Courey’s death; that MU called ESPN’s reporting “skewed and flawed;” and that Missouri finally alerted police to the incident on Saturday night (a day after the ESPN report).

Yesterday it was learned that Missouri president Tim Wolfe is calling for “outside independent counsel” to investigate the matter.  For those wanting more on the reaction from the Missouri campus and from Menu Courey’s parents you can find that here and here.  And if you’re looking for a brief overview of the case, you can find that here.

While there appear to be plenty of knowns when it comes to this sad tale, there are many more unknowns.  Did anyone inside the football offices know of the claims?  Did anyone inside the athletic department know of the situation?  Why didn’t MU officials turn things over to the police the minute they did know something?

And for the biggie — Will the NCAA get involved in this matter?

First, we’re not in favor of Mark Emmert sticking his organization’s big nose into matters of campus crime.  We were among the few who criticized the NCAA for getting involved with what looked like a lynch mob at Penn State back in Summer 2012.  But get involved Emmert and his crew did, slamming the Nittany Lion football program for not reporting to police that some PSU employees had suspicions that former assistant Jerry Sandusky had been raping boys.

As we said at the time, the Sandusky case was a matter for law enforcement and had absolutely nothing to do with athletics, which had been — up until the Penn State case — the NCAA’s purview.

So now it appears that Missouri officials — depending on whose story you believe — knew of the rape allegations against one or more football players but did not turn over that information to the police.  Where, then, do Emmert and his team of NCAA do-gooders stand on this?

If an independent investigation finds that MU leaders knew of the allegations and ignored them will the NCAA step in?  What if it’s learned that the school only knew about the allegations after Menu Courey’s death — as appears to be the case — and still decided not to report it?  Will the timeline of events impact the NCAA’s decision to get involved?  Will the fact that the alleged victim is dead impact the NCAA’s view?  Could the swimmer’s suicide make Emmert and crew more upset?

Missouri fans will no doubt read this and yelp that we’re trying stir up trouble for the school.  Not so.  This is a matter for law enforcement just as Penn State’s issues were.  (We do wonder how many Tiger fans were applauding the NCAA’s decision to overstep its bounds with regards to the Sandusky case, though.)

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19 comments
sek1026
sek1026

I am not here to stir controversy or dig at Mizzou, but sympathetic to the family for their tragic loss.  But, everyone seems to bash Penn State for Sandusky's cruel acts upon those he was in charge of during his tenure as the head of Second Mile Program.  JS left PSU in 1998 to pursue his goal of creating the program.  He did so after realizing Joe was never going to retire.  Therefore, his victims were tied to the program he created, not as a coach at PSU.  Most throughout the country don't know that in the late 1990s, Sandusky's activities were reported to the District Attorney's Office where PSU resides, but the DA cleared Sandusky of any wrongdoing.  Unfortunately, the DA cannot be called as a witness because he went missing over a decade ago.  


It also amazes me that a few people making comments state the obvious that various laws (privacy laws relating to medical care and etc) will exonerate Mizzou and I do agree with your argument as well as admire your passion to defend your beloved institution.  But, to compare your argument with Joe P and Penn State, at the time before the JS tragedy, state law stated that when an employed individual hears of any abuse, all they needed was to report the incident to their superiors and once reported that was it.  Even the State Police Commissioner said Joe did the right did but neglected his moral obligation.  As a former public employee myself, we were told that once we report an incident that was it - it was then the responsibility of the administrators to investigate and call the proper authorities.  This ends our obligation.  Also, if one did pursue the issue, they were told it was in the hands of the proper authorities.  Other words, keep your nose out and let the local authorities do their job.  


I have read several articles that relate to the Mizzou incident and became quite alarmed at the recommendation to hire an independent firm to investigate.  Warning, that is what PSU did in hopes of exonerating the Board of Directors and place blame on others.  When PSU's officials stated their intentions to hire Louis Freeh to investigate, most of us who follow Penn State and its programs knew it would be disastrous for the University, but did not think the report would be tied into the NCAA sanctions.  WARNING MIzzou -  if Mizzou's board approves an independent investigative team to investigate, it has subpoena power to read emails, documents, and interview those involved.  The NCAA does not have subpoena power to investigate (remember the NCAA's Miami fiasco a year ago).  The proposed investigation will help the NCAA because it will save them time and money, but most importantly prevent their incompetent team of investigators from entering the picture.  Once again, a recommendation from those who experienced the flaws of an independent investigation, that recommendation is simply let the law local and state law enforcement agencies do their job and their own investigation, and if the NCAA wants to get involved, have Emmert's cronies dish out the money and time. 


When the sanctions hammered Penn State's football, those who support the program warned the college world that it could happen again to another university, but the warnings fell on deaf ears.  For many, the downfall of PSU football was their gain; recruits left for other top programs and current players were allowed to leave and play at any university they chose without losing a year of eligibility.  I do believe Penn State paid for their tuition and cost as if they never left PSU (I could be wrong on this one).  Many people applauded Emmert and his decision and hoped PSU football would be ruined for years to come.  All the time, Penn Staters warned - this could happen again.  


In the summer of 2012, Emmert stood behind the podium and announced his sanctions and mentioned the Freeh Report as the basis for the NCAA's decision.  Many Penn Staters were taken aback and wondered under what authority did he have to grandstand and punish Penn State; especially before any of the accused stood trial.  One has to remember the NCAA is now in a legal battle with the Paterno family and a district judge recently announced that parts of the lawsuit and go forward.  This isn't good for the NCAA because they would have to disclose who they collaborated with on their decision.  But, think about this.  If the NCAA does not intervene in the Mizzou incident and does nothing, how will the court of law perceive the NCAA's lack of action to punish an institution for possibly (i say possibly) covering up?  How will the NCAA look.  People claim there is a difference between the Sandusky issue and the Mizzou issue.  I think any professional in the field of social science will agree - rape is rape regardless of gender and age.  Right now, with the Mizzou incident, Emmert and the NCAA are walking on thin ice.  If they do nothing, that will provide additional fuel for the plaintiffs in the Paterno lawsuit in regards to Emmert's grandstanding.


In conclusion, Miss Courey's death is a great tragedy; not only at Mizzou but throughout the world of college sports.  Those of us who follow college football, regardless of team affiliation, send our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Miss Courey.  However, the issues behind the incident and her death is an issue that should be handled by the local, state, and federal agencies involved.  The tragedy should not be politicized by Emmert and the NCAA in their attempt to showcase their desire to "get tough" on its member schools.  In today's world of justice, there are two types that exist.  First, justice handled by the courts whereby prosecutors and those appointed to defend argue their case to prove innocence or guilt.  This type of justice protects a right cherished by all Americans - innocent until proven guilty.  The second type of justice, media justice and public opinion.  By far, this type is more dangerous to our society today and in the future.  Media justice proclaims individuals guilty before the case is heard in the courts, and from media justice the public opinion damns the individuals regardless of their guilt or innocence. 

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

One of the few? Most of the columns I recall were strongly opposed to Emmert's actions based on the notion that he was setting a dangerous precedent or even obligating the NCAA to take similar action any time an athletic department or university ran afoul of the criminal code.


What happened at Missouri was awful and tragic, whether a crime was committed or not. Honestly, I'm not sure Sara's tragedy should be used as an opportunity to dredge up the PSU arguments yet again. You're on record with your dissent in that case, and your points were both fair and widely shared within the media. They had a full hearing. Let it go.

stonemason49
stonemason49

Do not worry Missouri fans NCAA staying at Penn State sticking there noses were it never belonged in the first place trying to dig more crap up about Penn State.

Mike007
Mike007

It's certain the majority of people making negative comments about Mizzou lack a fundamental understanding of Borderline Personality Disorder.  I would enjoy reading their comments after they spent about 150 hours observing BPDs in a clinical setting.

bpa_kc
bpa_kc

My understanding was that the only "officials" that knew about the allegations were medical staff... which by law, are not allowed to disclose this type of information to authorities w/out the consent of the victim.  Otherwise the lack of anonymity could stop rape victims from seeking help/treatment.  


I guess we'll see if anybody in the athletic program tried to hide and/or cover this up in an attempt to protect the program... as is what happened at PSU.  The way the program dealt swiftly with Derrick Washington makes me think this is probably not the case. 

VAHogBrown
VAHogBrown

 Incidentally, this isn't the only sex crime related to the football team that happened that year at Mizzou.  The other involved a quickly rising star running back, Derrick Washington: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/7235226/former-missouri-tigers-rb-derrick-washington-sentenced-5-years-sex-assault


While I believe what happened in this current case smells very fishy, and perhaps is a result of a school not wanting to get hit with another scandal, the school did give Mr. Washington the boot for his transgression.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@Monkeypox69 

I believe -- and I wrote it at the time -- that Emmert saw everyone in America calling for more punishment -- what a shock -- and decided he could join the lynch mob and get the NCAA some accolades for a change.  And the majority of fans and writers backed him.  I took a heckuva lot of nasty emails and comments for saying he'd overstepped his bounds.  The comment boxes under other writers' stories saying the same thing also turned nasty.

The nation had its dander up and Emmert tried to align his organization with those screaming for more sanctions (as if that issue had anything to do with the NCAA's jurisdiction).

Only later -- once everyone's blood had cooled -- did the NCAA and Emmert walk back some of the sanctions to the applause of many.

If there's one thing that's almost universally true in America it's this: Any scandal will outrage the public -- whipped into a frenzy by a holier-than-thou media -- and then that same public will forgive and forget once massive punishments have been handed down.  It is a bizarre quirk of our culture.  "Stone 'em all... We've used up all our stones... Well, maybe we should be more merciful."

Penn State was wrongly sanctioned by a body that was not created to weigh in on those types of cases.  Legal experts and ex-NCAA officials said that from the get-go.  And while I don't want other programs to be punished as Penn State was -- "two wrongs don't make a right" -- I do believe Emmert and his gang should be peppered with questions about their mishandling of PSU every time another school or another coach has some sort of possible illegal action or cover-up tied to them.


Thanks for reading,

John

bpa_kc
bpa_kc

@sek1026 So far all that I have seen evidence for is that medical personal knew about the incident and did not report it.  Maybe they should have... but I think setting a precedent in which rape victims are not allowed to seek medical help or counselling in an anonymous fashion will strongly discourage many victims from seeking help.  


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@SportsChatter 


Well, then as stated, here's hoping no dirt turns up in this Missouri case.  'Cause if it does, it'd have something to do with athletics in your view.


John

commaperiod
commaperiod

@bpa_kc  i think you are incorrect about the reporting of rape by doctors. it is state dependent but in most cases doctors would be affected by some statutes in most states to report the rape. see for example:


http://www.ncdsv.org/images/Rape%20and%20SA%20Reporting%20Requirements%20%20-%20Scalzo%206.15.06.pdf


as with the Penn State case, there is just not concern for the present victim but for potential victims as well. Afterall, this was the reason for outcry about the non-reporting of the Penn State incident - it could have potentially prevented more molestation and rape (although Sandusky was investigated in '98 and not charged. there was no "cover-up" there). In the Mizzou case, by not reporting, the doctors let one or more rapists continue to be part of the community, and potentially victimize more women.


So in that regards, this is very much like PSU. There was an opportunity to report an incident to prevent further victimization but it did not happen. And yes in that regard it is "hiding it or covering it up" as you say. 


Also, ESPN interviewed Mizzou personnel for this story and brought up the medical records and pointed out the alleged rape to the personnel. Mizzou did nothing though. (How is it ESPN has the medical record and not Mizzou? Perhaps the family shared it with ESPN but not Mizzou??) Again very similar to PSU - PSU knew about the grand jury but did nothing about Jerry Sandusky, nor did they interview key witnesses. Not until the story hit the presses did either university take action.


I don't think this is about athletics though, I think it is more about the reputation of the university in general. In Penn State's case they are now being reviewed because of the sharp increase in sexual assault reports post-Sandusky. They are probably doing things correctly now. I think at most universities most assaults are "hidden" or "covered up" as you say regardless of any link to athletics.


It's also sad to think that people have not learnt from Penn State. They think it is a Penn State thing, or a Catholic church thing. They still have not realized that the mishandling and non-reporting of sexual assault and rape is sadly part of the American culture. The numbers for child abuse (see www.childhelp.org) and sexual assault of women are just too big to go on thinking that the non-reporting of it just happens at other places. It's not being reported EVERYWHERE including Mizzou. Sorry to break the news to you.

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

@John at MrSEC@Monkeypox69 

Actually, I remember being amused at the time with the high number of columnists taking the, "I know this isn't going to be popular, but Emmert's over the line here" take, as if if they were a lonely voice in the wilderness. Or maybe I only read the dozen columnists and bloggers with that approach and missed the "majority" of the others. Yes, your in-box probably filled up with people upset at your opinion. The Internet has become a pretty nasty forum on a variety of fronts. No surprise there.


Are you legitimately concerned about NCAA over-reach with the Coury case? Or are you really replying to all of those nasty notes you got last year? I am not sure Coury's story deserves to become a Trojan horse for Emmert/Penn State told-ya-so's unless and until the NCAA and Emmert actually look like they might be going there. And we all know they're not going to go there, in part because the media killed Emmert for what he did and continues to kill him to this day. He's a lame-duck, and yes, that's because he has presided over so many glaring episodes of mismanagement.

bpa_kc
bpa_kc

@John at MrSEC @SportsChatter 


It depends on whether or not high ranking officials w/in the athletic program knew about it but failed to report it in an attempt to protect the football program.  If so, then it has something to do with athletics and I believe the NCAA should have jurisdiction to step in.  


Obviously it is a law enforcement issue no matter what.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

@John at MrSEC@DaveinExile@Monkeypox69 If I fire an employee because I suspect he is molesting children but fail to report it to authorities, then I am at fault on several fronts. However, if I go to your kids' scout troop, set up my former employee as a paid spokesperson on my recommendation, and arrange for a lot of publicity about my former employee's incredible character, a character shared by all of my employees, then I am evil beyond words.


Scenario B is basically what happened at Penn State. So, trying to equate what we know about Missouri to what happened at PSU does require a vision check. We agree on that.

You've already said that most people now agree with you on Emmert and PSU. There is no way the NCAA is getting involved in this case, and you know it. So, I ask you again: what purpose did your original purpose serve?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@DaveinExile@John at MrSEC@Monkeypox69 

The NCAA punished Penn State because some athletic department officials and schools administrators covered up at least one sexual assault on its campus.

Now, it's been reported that Missouri did not turn information about a sexual assault on its campus over to the proper authorities.  They did so after the story broke and now they're calling for an independent investigation.

 

If you can't see the possible connection between this case and Penn State's -- IF it's found MU officials did sweep something under the rug -- then you need to have your vision checked.  For that reason, it's appropriate to ask IF some sort of cover-up is found, will the NCAA react as it did with Penn State.


Pretty clear. 

John

DaveinExile
DaveinExile

@John at MrSEC@DaveinExile@Monkeypox69You are using Coury's alleged rape and very real suicide to revisit Penn State and Mark Emmert - based on the remote speculative possibility that the NCAA might get involved here too. Sorry, something about that strikes me as wrong. IF we have a major cover-up and IF Emmert starts dropping sound bites in the press noting that the case has drawn his attention or that of the Executive Committee, then I could see the connection being made. Until then, it's nothing more than using her death and the resulting investigation as a vehicle to peel back the scab on PSU - when, as you noted in your post, most media members have "come around" to your point of view. What does this post accomplish beyond reminding people what your views were on PSU?


When I read about the Coury case, Penn State and Emmert are the furthest things from my mind. I think about the student at St. Mary's who killed herself after alleging that she was assaulted by a Notre Dame football player. I think about the woman who accused Winston. I think about the women in the piece on SB Nation about Dave Meggett. I think about a young woman I had last year who had a 98 average in my course and just disappeared with 3 weeks to go in the semester. She was about to graduate. I think about women I knew as an undergraduate who just fell apart in a matter of weeks and left campus, never to be seen again. I have no idea what happened in Coury's case or their cases. But I'm pretty sure connecting any of them to Emmert, the NCAA, or JoePa makes no sense at all.



John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@DaveinExile@John at MrSEC@Monkeypox69 

As the guy who was doing our headlines back in those days, I can promise you there were more columnists backing the NCAA than criticizing it.  To the tune of about 2 or 3 to 1.  In headlines I would link to what I found and there were many more saying the NCAA finally got something right than there were saying, "Hold on a second."  I was in the unique position of posting those in headlines and trust me, there were more pro than con.

What I'm pointing out -- now that there is the POTENTIAL that a cover-up of a rape took place at an SEC school -- is that that the NCAA bungled things the last time.  I don't know what happened at Missouri anymore than you do and I hope there was no cover-up.  Evidence to date is in Missouri's favor, it would seem.  But if there is wrong doing, would the NCAA handle it as it did Penn State?  I'd bet no, and in my view that would only further prove how wrong Emmert's crew was back in 2012.


Not sure how any of that is "replying to all of those nasty notes" and comments we received here.  Just pointing out that -- as we said at the time -- the NCAA was starting down a slippery slope by getting involved in the Penn State mess.  They did.  So how will they handle scandals in the future?  That's what I'm waiting to see.


John

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