COLUMBIA — The Twittersphere exploded with heated comments — some of them graphic and profane — Tuesday night in reaction to the disclosure that Missouri guard Michael Dixon Jr. was accused of sexual assault in August.
But most of the tweets expressed support for getting Dixon off the bench and back on the team, regardless of the accusation against him, which did not result in criminal charges. Tweets in the last 24 hours with the hashtag #FreeMikeDixon, which popped up on Twitter around Nov. 20, have focused on puzzlement about why Dixon is still suspended from the Missouri basketball team.
Dixon was accused of sexual assault on Aug. 20, but the Boone County Prosecutor's office decided Nov. 16 there was insufficient evidence to charge him. He was suspended from the team by coach Frank Haith on Oct. 26.
Missouri football player Kendial Lawrence, @K_Lawrence4, tweeted: "#FreeMikeDixon!"
The Antlers, @The_Antlers, tweeted: "So how much longer until Mike plays again? #FreeMikeDixon."
Mizzou Nation, @Mizzou2SEC, tweeted a picture of Dixon in uniform with the phrases, "#FreeMikeDixon" and "Students should not be punished without evidence of guilt." The picture had been retweeted almost 400 times by Wednesday afternoon.
Fans also tweeted using the hashtag.
The story broke on Twitter early Saturday morning when a woman accusing Dixon tweeted: "Yes, I said it. Michael Dixon sexually assaulted me. That's why he is suspended. You all can call me names, but I know what he did."
The tweets and the woman's account have been deleted.
The woman also responded to former Missouri basketball player Kim English's tweets questioning Dixon's suspension from the basketball team.
English, @Englishscope24, tweeted: "Michael has handled this situation w/ nothing but poise, class and professionalism. Would be awesome if his University would do the same," and "Thank God we have an AMAZING chancellor who I trust will make the right decision soon. And do what's right by reinstating Michael Dixon Jr."
The woman responded, "@Englishscope24 I don't care if you or anyone in the school doesnt believe me. please do not ever say he did nothing wrong. because he did."
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.