Two former basketball players have accused ex-Amateur Athletic Union president Robert "Bobby" Dodd of molesting them as children, according to an ESPN report.
The AAU confirmed late Friday that it is investigating the claims, which reportedly date from the 1980s. One of the players, 43-year-old Ralph West, told ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" he was assaulted in Memphis in 1984.
Both West and a second unidentified man said news reports about the Penn State child sex abuse case prompted them to independently confront Dodd in November. The player, who spoke to ESPN on the condition of anonymity, said he called Dodd on Nov. 11 and that Dodd apologized for the alleged abuse. ESPN confirmed an eight-minute call to Dodd by examining telephone records.
Memphis police said in a statement that it had been contacted by the AAU and was looking into the allegations.
"The Memphis Police Department takes allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously," Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said. "Although this case has its challenges due to the amount of time that has passed, it will be thoroughly examined; and if the investigation reveals the law was violated, the person responsible will be held accountable."
AAU Acting President Louis Stout released a statement Friday saying that the 63-year-old Dodd has colon cancer and will not return to his positions as president and executive director.
Stout also confirmed that the organization is conducting its own probe.
"The AAU has recently been made aware of some serious allegations about President Robert W. `Bobby’ Dodd, dating back several decades," the statement said. "The AAU has opened an independent investigation into these matters and also has contacted local law enforcement in Memphis, where the activities allegedly occurred. We will actively cooperate with any and all authorities to determine the facts and the truth."
An AAU spokeswoman said late Friday the group would have no additional comment.
Both accusers said they never went to police and only recently told their families.
According to ESPN, West alleged that Dodd fondled him, tried to fondle him or masturbated in front of him at Dodd’s home in Memphis, the AAU Junior Olympics in South Bend, Ind., and tournaments in Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee.
He told the sports network there were a half-dozen times from 1983 to 1985 in which Dodd either molested or attempted to molest him and that in each incident Dodd would sneak into his room "in the middle of the night and you don’t hear anything . . . and he’s trying to reach his hand in your underwear, basically."
Dodd did not respond to ESPN’s requests for comment. His assistant told the network in an email that he had cancer and had retired from the AAU on Nov. 29 for health reasons.
Robin Brown-Beamon, national chairwoman for the AAU athletics executive committee, was surprised by the allegations.
"That’s the first I’ve heard of any of it," Brown-Beamon told ESPN.