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Alden, Pinkel respond to ESPN report on Derrick Washington

Friday, August 22, 2014 | 7:36 p.m. CDT; updated 5:19 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 23, 2014
Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel speaks with the media Friday at Mizzou Arena following an ESPN report about the department's handling of sexual assault incidents. Missouri athletics director Mike Alden joined Pinkel for the news conference.

*CORRECTION: The time the Outside the Lines episode will air was incorrect in an earlier version of this story. OTL will air at 8 a.m. Sunday.

COLUMBIA — When Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel learned that then-running back Derrick Washington could be arrested for sexual assault before the 2010 season began in August, it was time for a conversation.

Pinkel said he sat Washington down in his office.

"We've got problems here," Pinkel said he told Washington.

Pinkel said he then had a discussion with Missouri athletics director Mike Alden, telling Alden there was "no way" the senior captain could be played in the season opener due to his likely arrest. Washington was charged with felony deviate sexual assault Aug. 30, 2010, and was dismissed from the team that September.

Pinkel and Alden spoke to reporters Friday about the subject, addressing questions sparked from an ESPN "Outside The Lines" report released Thursday. The ESPN report alleged that MU mishandled reported instances of assault committed by Washington before his dismissal. Although he was booted from the football team, Washington still had a scholarship to continue attending school at Missouri; he withdrew from school shortly after his suspension, though.

One allegation in the report describes an incident in which Missouri soccer coach Bryan Blitz used a scholarship as leverage to keep one of his players from reporting that she was assaulted by Washington. According to the ESPN report, Washington punched the player in the face after an altercation that resulted in the arrest of the soccer player and Washington's girlfriend.

In Friday's news conference, held at Mizzou Arena in front of assorted media from the state, Alden said he was aware of the soccer player's arrest. It wasn't until February 2014, Alden said, that he learned of the allegation that Blitz used the player's scholarship as leverage. He said he found out about this when ESPN filed a request for documents, and was "surprised" at first.

In a teleconference Thursday, MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said Blitz was clearly trying to tell his player that her arrest could result in her scholarship being revoked.

The ESPN report includes the details of two incidents involving Washington — one being the sexual assault of former MU student and tutor Teresa Braeckel in June 2010. That incident is what led to Washington's dismissal in September and his eventual 2011 conviction.

Washington was sentenced to five years in prison but served a 120-day shock sentence. He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in the attack of his ex-girlfriend — which occurred three months after the 2010 assault — and served a 90-day sentence concurrently with the shock sentence.

The ESPN report describes two other incidents that occurred prior to his removal from the team. The first was in October 2008, when Washington was reported to have raped a sophomore student in her MU residence hall room. The second incident occurred in May 2010, when the aforementioned soccer player said Washington punched her at a bar.

Alden said he became aware of the 2008 allegations at that time and alerted Pinkel, who decided not to discipline Washington.

"It's all about the information," Pinkel said. "If they decide they're not going to press charges, then I'm not going to remove a player from the team for that. I'm consistent in how I handle any situation before."

Pinkel did, however, remove a player in April, despite no charges.

The 14-year coach dismissed wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who was listed in a police report for a burglary incident but was not charged with a crime.

Pinkel said Friday he had "other information, quite honestly" to help make his decision about Green-Beckham.

"It's confidential where I got it," Pinkel said. "I could have thrown it out, but I didn't, because I have to do what's right. Regardless of what the police did, I did the right thing."

When it comes to evaluating the discipline of players, Pinkel and Alden said each case is unique, and a decision is made depending on information on hand.

Pinkel said he believes new policies on campus regarding Title IX — which covers all forms of discrimination — will help minimize problems on campus.

New attention was brought to how MU and the UM System handles Title IX cases in January when ESPN reported on the suicide of Sasha Menu Courey. That report — also produced by "Outside The Lines" — occurred roughly 16 months after the former MU swimmer was allegedly assaulted by one or more football players.

Alden said he is aware of the Title IX reporting procedures in place at MU but was not aware of said procedures when he learned of Washington's alleged 2008 rape.

"To my knowledge, for me, with MUPD being involved and other people that I informed, certainly I felt like we were reporting it the way we normally report things," Alden said.

"Those types of things are much, much better today than they would have been in 2008," Alden added.

Pinkel said that during football team meetings on Thursdays throughout the season, discussions include "different aspects of assault and being respectful to women."

Pinkel and Alden began speaking at 2 p.m. and held court for about 27 minutes.

The final question any reporter asked was when Pinkel last spoke to Washington.

"I can't remember," Pinkel replied. "I don't think I've talked to him since he left."

Then Pinkel and Alden stopped fielding questions and walked off into an adjacent room.

The complete "Outside The Lines" television report will air at 8 a.m. Sunday* on ESPN.

Supervising editor is Mark Selig.


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Comments

Michael Grinfeld August 22, 2014 | 8:10 p.m.

No faculty member at MU could engage in the kind of behaviors that Pinkel and Alden engage in on an ongoing basis and keep their jobs. So, nothing will change at MU until someone has the courage to clear the slate. Having said that, there's also nothing, absolutely nothing, more important at MU than football. So, we'll keep having these misadventures, because nothing the school has done to date is more than window dressing. It's time we all demanded the kinds of changes that are meaningful and will keep our students and our community safe.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 22, 2014 | 9:09 p.m.

Well, Michael, while I agree with you, I'd like to remind you and your chancellor that there are three other campuses in this sad joke called a "system," and whether those of us who represent those campuses like it or not we too appear to be stuck with MU's problems. Did we ask for that?

I'd also remind you and your chancellor that using the System's own published data our three campuses combined have the majority of this "system's" students.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 23, 2014 | 2:59 a.m.

PS: Old and honored American military saying: "Either lead, follow, or get out of the [or our] way!" Which is it going to be? It has now been 51 years (more than half a century) since this so-called university "system" was initiated.

(Report Comment)

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