Mizzou did the right thing with DGB — but did the Tigers do it for the RIGHT reasons?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The layup answer, the default narrative, is that the University of Missouri did the proper thing — the only thing, really — Friday by kicking Dorial Green-Beckham, an all-world talent, to the curb.
According to a report released Thursday by Columbia, Mo., police, DGB forced his way into a home that wasn’t his, grabbed his girlfriend by the neck and pushed a woman down a set of stairs. This is what they like to refer to in the business as "Lawrence Phillips territory," and those are three words no coach or athletic director wants to hear. Ever.
Charges or no charges, arrest or no arrest, you’re done. Get help, son. Get. Help. You’re 20. There’s time.
The cynical answer, of course — and maybe the real one, too — is that DGB, in addition to being about six levels of dumb, reckless, hot-headed, irresponsible, immature and criminally dangerous, was further coldcocked by circumstance. In life, like breaking and entering, timing is everything. While coach Gary Pinkel and athletic director Mike Alden were bringing Paul Bunyan’s ax down on the sophomore wide receiver, an independent report was swinging the hammer of Thor down on Alden and the athletic department as a whole.
Google the words "Mizzou, sexual assault," and in 0.47 seconds, about 91,700 results pop up.
DGB is Friday’s headline, but that’s the nut graph.
Missouri’s Board of Curators had commissioned an independent investigation into how the university handled — or mishandled, in this case — the saga of former Tigers swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, who alleged that she was raped by at least two Mizzou football players in 2010, during her freshman year in Columbia. She committed suicide 15 months later in a Boston psychiatric hospital.
The investigators’ report was released Friday, and the results weren’t kind. The report claimed that MU officials failed to follow federal law that governs sexual harassment cases on campus, and that when university officials found out about Menu Courey’s allegations in November, the Title IX coordinator wasn’t notified. Moreover, investigators decreed that Mizzou lacked a clear policy on employees’ responsibilities in reporting such assaults.
"We probably dropped the ball," a university official told the investigators, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Actually, when it comes to the subject of sexual assault, Mizzou athletics seems to have developed a downright curious case of fumblitis as of late. In 2010, former MU running back Derrick Washington was convicted for sexually assaulting a tutor in her sleep. In 2012, basketball player Michael Dixon transferred after two claims of sexual assault against him went public.
Then there’s the curious case of another Tiger hoops player, forward Zach Price, who was involved in an alleged dispute with roommate and teammate Earnest Ross, and Ross’ girlfriend. Price reportedly rammed a vehicle that the two happened to be driving in, trapping them and then punching Ross in the face.
On April 2, Ross reportedly filed an order of protection against the 6-foot-10 Price, a transfer from Louisville. Price had, shall we say, an interesting Thursday: He was arrested, then released, then arrested again on suspicion of assault and domestic assault. Oh, yeah, and got kicked off the basketball team.
That’s a bad enough week for Alden. But combined with the Menu Courey investigation and another episode of CSI: DGB, it raises questions, institutionally, that bubble all the way to the top.
But the big ones, the doozies, are this: Are young women safe, truly safe, around Mizzou’s most high-profile student athletes? Whose rights and well-being are better protected: Football and men’s basketball players, or their accusers?
"Dorial’s priority going forward," Pinkel said in a statement, "needs to be focusing on getting the help he needs."
Don’t weep for Green-Beckham, Mizzou’s perpetual Icarus, trapped in another descent phase. He may well find his millions. If you can ball, really ball, the NFL will find you. You just hope Mizzou did what it did for reasons other than pure self-interest. Lord knows, DGB gave them reason enough.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.