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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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Four Players Dismissed At Vanderbilt; Police Sex Crimes Unit Investigating

mrsec-breaking-newsFour unnamed players at Vanderbilt have been dismissed from the team and the Metro Nashville Police Sex Crimes Unit is investigating “a matter that was alleged to have occurred at a Vanderbilt University dormitory.”

According to The Tennessean, neither the police nor Vanderbilt is releasing the names or ages of the players alleged to have been in the incident that police started investigating on Wednesday.  As The Tennessean reported, the players were originally suspended but an update from Vanderbilt this morning says the players have been dismissed for a violation of team rules.  From the release:

The four students have also been placed on interim suspension from the university, effective immediately, pending further investigation and/or a hearing. They may not return to campus for any purpose without explicit permission from the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

“The well-being of our students is of paramount concern to us, and we will not tolerate any actions that threaten student safety and security,” said Beth Fortune, Vanderbilt vice chancellor for public affairs.

Update: WKRN in Nashville adds some additional details.  According to school officials, six other student athletes are under investigation at this time.  The alleged victim is a student at another school.

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VU’s Franklin Backtracks On Wife Comments; Vandy Bosses, Too

Speaking to Nashville radio station WGFX-FM earlier this week, James Franklin said:

 

“I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant until I see his wife.  If she looks the part and she’s a D1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired.  That’s part of the deal.  There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a women, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being articulate and confident, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.” 

 

Obviously, that’s not the brightest thing in the world for Vanderbilt’s football coach to say.  We didn’t blast him because — to be fair — he could have been hamming it up with the guys at the station.  We did, however, point out that he could take some flak for his loose lips.

It didn’t take long for the story to make national headlines.  At that point, Franklin took to Twitter to try and put out the fire he’d started:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Franklin’s boss — Vandy vice chancellor David Williams — then tried to put a little distance between the school and Franklin’s comments:

 

“After being informed of Coach Franklin’s comments, I spoke with him about his remarks. We discussed how inappropriate and offensive his statements were no matter his state of mind or intent. Coach Franklin is clearly aware of his mistake and is sorry for any hurt that resulted from his statements. Clearly his comments do not reflect the values and hiring practices of Vanderbilt University, Vanderbilt Athletics or Vanderbilt Football.”

 

In other words — “Hey, assistants who weren’t hired, please don’t sue us!”

Were Franklin’s words really, really that offensive?  Probably not.

Were they dumb?  Without question.  And the fact that he and the Vanderbilt administration are backpedaling from them like a cornerback at the NFL combine is proof of that.

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Vandy Disses Army Alma Mater, Apologizes

James Franklin has quickly turned around the in-game fortunes of the Vanderbilt football team.  Now he needs to do something about VU’s postgame reputation.

Last week, Franklin himself took offense to a Georgia player’s taunts and wound up in a heated postgame exchange with UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.  On Saturday, Vanderbilt dissed the US Military Academy with its postgame behavior.  Today the school issued an apology that read in part:


“We at Vanderbilt University would like to publicly offer our sincere apology for the events that occurred at the conclusion of our recent football game.  While our football team performed our alma mater with our fans and band, the Black Knights, their band and cheerleaders, as well as their fans, stood at attention and honored us as would a worthy foe.  However, after we were finished and the Black Knights began to perform their alma mater, our football team left the field and our loud speaker blasted music that had the result of drowning out the performing of your alma mater.

While there was no intention to be disrespectful, this was wrong and was a huge mistake on our part.  There is no excuse for this oversight; we were just wrong and we are truly sorry.”


A nice touch by the Commodore brass to offer a public mea culpa.

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Texas A&M And SEC To Celebrate Their Union This Evening

Mike Slive and University of Florida president Bernie Machen will be in College Station this evening to extend a laurel and hearty handshake to Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin.  According to Loftin, A&M students, staff and the public are invited to attend the celebration marking the Aggies entry into the SEC.

“Howdy from your President!” the invitation begins:


“This is an historic time in Aggieland.  Yesterday, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) — the nation’s preeminent collegiate athletic conference — invited Texas A&M to become its 13th member, effective July 1, 2012.  And we have accepted enthusiastically.

By charting our own course, we can assure that Texas A&M wil lbe part of the athletic conference that will provide us with national visibility, as well as greater financial opportunity and conference stability, starting next summer and for decades to come.

Like Texas A&M, eight of the 12 current SEC member institutions owe their origins to the Morrill Act of 1862, which revolutionized higher education through the creation of land-grant universities.  And, like Texas A&M, SEC members have achieved national and international prominence.  For example, two universities — Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida — are members, with Texas A&M, in the elite Association of American Universities, which has just 61 members in the United States and Canada.

Our counterparts int he SEC are much like Texas A&M in other fundamental ways as well: they celebrate their rich histories and perpetuate their unique traditions, they are passionate on the playing field and in the stands, and they are united in their commitment to instilling core values that will prepare future generations of leaders for our nation and world.”


Harrumph!

The celebration will be held at Kyle Field.

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