So far, MU’s athletic department has found no basis for allegations made in a national magazine by a former Tiger Hostess who said coaches ignored her complaints of sexual harassment.
The woman, identified only as “Emily” in an article in Seventeen’s September issue, described incidents in which she was asked by fellow Tiger Hostesses and players to go out to bars and strip clubs with recruits.
She said she was propositioned and groped by recruits and was asked to drive a player and recruit to buy marijuana with money the department gave players to entertain recruits.
In the article, “Emily” describes how football coach-
es laughed when she told them how a recruit sexually harassed her. However, the article does not make it clear whether she told coaches about her experiences with recruits and players partaking in alcohol and drugs or patronizing strip clubs.
Chad Moller, director of media relations for the MU athletic department, said Tuesday the department had not yet heard from Seventeen publishers. The department sent Seventeen a letter Thursday asking for the name of the woman.
“Without having any facts
to go on, because the article doesn’t give any, we’re doing everything we can to find out if that indeed happened,” Moller said.
In conducting its internal investigation into the allegations, Moller said, the department is contacting everyone involved with the program, including Tiger Hostesses.
Following an evaluation of the Tiger Hostess program last March, the athletic department changed its policy, no longer allowing Tiger Hostesses to accompany recruits off campus.
“I think primarily all of those alleged incidents took place off campus. With the primary measure being not allowing hostesses going off campus with recruits, that should take care of that,” Moller said.
No incidents led to the changes, he said, and the department made the changes before it was aware of the Seventeen article or the allegations made in it.
The article says Seventeen asked Mark Alnutt, director of football operations, about the woman’s experiences, and quotes him saying, “College kids will be college kids.”
Moller said Tuesday that Alnutt will not comment on the article but that the department was looking into that quote.
“The quote attributed to him we’re trying to figure out, because he was never presented with that scenario of the alleged person making the alleged allegations,” Moller said.
The department is trying to determine whether Alnutt’s comment was taken from an interview he did with KOMU-TV about changes made to Tiger Hostess policies, Moller said.
MU Chancellor Richard Wallace and Provost Brady Deaton are aware of the article, but “right now they are letting the athletic department make any comment on it,” Mary Jo Banken, director of the University of Missouri News Bureau said Monday. Wallace and Deaton are on vacation and “off duty right now,” she said.
The former recruiting volunteer’s allegations come at a time when the NCAA prepares to meet and address college recruiting issues. On Thursday, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors will “consider six task force recommendations as emergency legislation,” the NCAA said in a release last month.
One of the recommendations says college athletics programs should craft written policies for official recruiting visits — policies that would apply to student hosts.