Punished for Allegations: Sexual Assault in College Sports

Jack Montague couldn’t celebrate with his teammates when Yale clinched their first March Madness birth in 54 years. He couldn’t, as Captain, accept the trophy. He couldn’t even step on the New Haven campus.

Jack, or Gucci as he’s called, last played on February 6th, 4 days before being kicked off of the team, and expelled from the school.

Montague “says he engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with a fellow student”, only to be called before the University Committee on Sexual Misconduct 12 months later. There are no charges filed with New Haven police. None with Yale police. But his life has been ruined. He’s gone from one of the country’s prestigious universities. The game he loves has been taken from him. Over, on paper, nothing.

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It’s crucial to this whole article and argument to understand that sexual assault (especially on college campuses) and domestic abuse should not be seen as a joke or a simple talking point. The victims of these crimes suffer pain like no other, and the criminals are the scum of the Earth that don’t deserve an ounce of respect.

But there has to be an understanding that although we have great systems set up to help victims, they’re abused by people for money, jealousy, or spite. We tend to condemn anyone who thinks people would do such a thing. If you didn’t say that Jameis Winston deserved to be executed the minute the allegations of sexual assault were brought up, then you were seen as a rat bleep-er.

Because of that, any time there’s an allegation brought up, universities and teams feel they have to act with a swift hand of justice. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t do anything wrong. A person can say you sexually assaulted them, and you will be kicked out of the school within the week. If that’s how we want things to be, alright. But it’s unethical and immoral.

Brian banks was a high school football standout, one of the best in the country at the time. A classmate of his claimed she was raped by him. Facing a life sentence, he had to take a plea deal that included 5 years in prison. The accuser collected a multi-million dollar check. Then in 2011, she came out and admitted the story was fabricated. That’s just one story. The same happened to Jameis Winston, whose accuser won nearly $1 million from Florida State although there were no charges. Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault accuser refused to testify in court, but managed to settle with Mamba for what can be predicted at a few million. You can’t turn on SportsCenter without seeing another athlete with allegations brought against them.

I’m aware how this seems to be saying sexual assault isn’t a thing, or that athletes shouldn’t be held to a higher standard. There are cases across the country in which athletes’ transgressions are covered up, because they’re important assets of the university. Jameis Winston very well may be one of those cases. We can’t possibly overlook the issue, when we have folks playing pro sports that committed heinous domestic abuses and sexual assaults, and should be in prison. Ray Rice can burn in Hell. Greg Hardy should already be at the gates. But we have to be better at discernment. People abuse handicap stickers. We shouldn’t assume they won’t abuse a sexual assault system that favors the accuser, and condemns the accused without trial. It’s become entirely too easy for this to be weaponized and used as blackmail against those that are set to make it big, or are on a national stage.

Sexual assault’s something that nobody wants to have to talk about. Especially when we’re at the best part of the college basketball season. We all want it to go away. The only people that are okay with rape are rapists. And they belong in the devil’s ass crack. It’s the people looking to gain from the sexual assault standards set in sports that are hurting the victims the most. It’s become near impossible to discern who’s actually been hurt, and who’s full of shit. But in an age where Aroldis Chapman’s been suspended 30 games over a couple of articles, not actual charges, it’s something we all need to talk about. We cannot pretend there aren’t people abusing this system. I’m against giving athletes special treatment. I don’t even like when the athletes get to register for classes before I do.

My point is not that each and every one of these athletes isn’t guilty of the crimes they’ve been alleged to have committed. But they’re human beings, and deserve a fair trial before they’re punished. We’re going down a dangerous road if we’re going to presume guilt to make a point, rather than fully investigate the case. There has to be a space between covering up an athlete’s transgressions, and immediately punishing them for allegations. Let’s get there.

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