NCAA Teams’ Wait and See Approach to Domestic Violence Unsurprisingly Ineffective

After Rutgers’ close loss to Washington State on September 12, Rutgers’ leading receiver Leonte Carroo slammed a woman onto the concrete. The victim sustained injuries to her hip, both her palms, and the left side of her head. As stated in the complaint filed in municipal court, the 20-year-old victim and Carroo previously dated. According to the victim in a phone interview with The Record, she remembers being picked up and dropped and “going high in the air.” She also expressed concern about backlash from the football player’s many supporters, adding, “I hope they don’t blame it [the suspension] on me.”

Carroo, a 2014 Big 10 Selection who recently opted out of the NFL draft, has pled not guilty to a domestic-violence related charge and is out on $1000 bail. One of seven players arrested in the last month for various charges including home invasion and assault, Carroo has been suspended indefinitely from the team.

Coincidentally, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood was also suspended the following week for three games and fined $50,000 after a university investigation found that he inappropriately communicated with a player’s instructor in regard to an academic issue. Yet, despite the recent criminal and unethical behavior,  Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann says the program still has her unwavering support. “I can tell you from my personal interactions that this locker room is filled with the type of leaders and quality young men that will continue to serve as exemplary ambassadors for the university,” she said in a September 14 statement.

Rutgers’ player Leonte Carroo (Photo: Ed Mulholland, USA TODAY Sports)

Of course, the events at Rutgers didn’t happen in a vacuum. In May, Louisiana State University (LSU) reserve offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was arrested on a felony charge of battery and domestic abuse, including strangulation. Initially suspended and with charges still pending, Domond is back on the team without having missed so much as a practice. “We’re letting the disposition of whatever entanglement he’s involved in run its course. He’s not suspended,” said head football coach Les Miles speaking to media after the start of fall training camp. 

Unfortunately, LSU is not the only university utilizing a  “wait and see” approach.

Just last month Baylor University defensive end Sam Ukwuachu was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault. Ukwuachu, a freshman All-American, transferred to Baylor in 2013 following dismissal from the Boise State football team for erratic behavior and a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. According to officials at Boise State, they were unaware of reports of violence committed by Ukwuachu against his girlfriend at the time and his dismissal was unrelated.

In the face of Ukwuachu’s indictment for sexual assault against a different woman while at Baylor, Baylor did acknowledge he had “some issues.” After sitting out in 2014 for unknown reasons (despite being eligible to play), he was expected to be on the field for the 2015 season. However, following Ukwuachu’s conviction for second-degree sexual assault, he was sentenced to six months in jail, 10 years of felony probation, and 400 hours of community service.

 

Mayweather Hype Highlights Lack Of Accountability For Abusers

Beyond the high-stakes hype for the recent Floyd Mayweather/ Manny Pacquiao boxing match, another conversation was taking place. If you watch the fight, wrote Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi, “You are putting money into the pocket of Mayweather — a man who is one of the most despicable domestic abusers in the history of sports.”

mMayweather’s record is well documented: He’s been accused of assaulting five women in at least seven different incidents. In 2012, Mayweather was sentenced to three months in jail for attacking his former girlfriend, ; two of their children witnessed the assault.

“He grabbed me by the hair and threw me on the ground and started punching me on my head with his fist and twisting my arm back and telling me he is going to kill me and the person that I am with,” she said in a police report USA Today published last year.

Mayweather denies he hurt Harris. Where’s the proof? he asks.

Before the Mayweather/Pacquiao match, Grantland published an artful piece that attempted to explain  Mayweather’s mix of athletic prowess and apparent violence against women. “The more I watched Mayweather fight, and the more I read about his allegedly violent acts outside the ring, the more I began to see it as all of one piece,” Louisa Thomas wrote. “The circus that follows him. The bag filled with cash and gambling slips. The entourage. The houses and the women installed in them, the diamond rings as collars. The way he takes the measure of a situation in the ring, determining when it’s safe to punch and when to duck.”

Ahead of the fight, advocates took to social media to point out the contradiction of Mayweather benefiting from the match. Hashtags #MoneyWhereMyMouthIs, #BoycottMayweather and #nomaypac and urged people to donate the $99.99 cost of the pay-per-view fight to an anti-domestic violence organization. (Mayweather took home $130 million for his victory.)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported an 80 percent increase in the number of donations the week before the fight. “People are frustrated that someone of Mayweather’s stature gets a pass,” said Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Mayweather is making millions off a fight when we are struggling to provide assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence.”

Raising money to help survivors is great. Holding abusers accountable, no matter how rich and famous, would be even better.