Questions remain after Auburn issues 4 statements regarding softball player abuse allegations
Auburn has issued four statements regarding the alleged abuse and sexual harassment of softball players as outlined in a letter sent to the university in July and detailed in an ESPN report on Saturday, but questions still remain as to the actions of administrators within the athletic department and when they became aware of the accusations.
The first two statements came from the athletic department, beginning Friday night, and the latter two came from the university, with the last coming shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday.
The four statements in their entirety:
- Athletic department statement Friday night:
“As information became known to us, the university acted upon it, following guidelines and/or procedures, to learn the facts and take appropriate action. The well-being of student-athletes was and is our utmost concern. By practice and policy, Auburn does not disclose details about Title IX investigations or personnel matters.”
- Athletic department response to ESPN story, 4:13 p.m. Saturday:
“The well-being of Auburn student-athletes was and is our utmost concern. In each instance of a personnel issue or question, Auburn Athletics works in conjunction with the university’s administration, following all established guidelines and in compliance with NCAA and SEC regulations when applicable, to investigate, learn the facts and take appropriate action. We followed this same procedure in matters related to the softball program. By both practice and in compliance with federal privacy laws, Auburn doesn’t disclose details of personnel matters.”
- University response to ESPN story, 9:37 a.m. Sunday:
“An investigation was promptly launched when allegations were made or concerns were raised. While we aren’t allowed by law to comment on personnel issues or issues related to students, any suggestion that Auburn Athletics or university administration didn’t take it seriously or didn’t act in the best interest of student-athletes is simply false.”
- Updated University response to ESPN story, 4:54 p.m. Sunday:
“ESPN has written an important story about our softball team. It’s a serious matter. As a university that cares deeply about our student-athletes, we have taken this seriously since the first concerns were raised.
An investigation was promptly launched when allegations were made. While we don’t by policy or law comment on personnel issues or issues related to students, any suggestion that Auburn Athletics or university administration didn’t take it seriously or didn’t act in the best interest of student-athletes is simply false.
While the law requires us to protect the privacy of our students, tying our hands about what can be said publicly, there is a reason changes took place with the coaching staff. As much as we may want to give more details, we have been approached by some of the student-athletes involved, directly asking us to protect them because they don’t want their names made public.
Once the facts were established, changes to the staff quickly followed. Honoring the student-athletes requests for privacy while taking necessary disciplinary action is not an easy line to walk when the media asks legitimate questions, but we did the right things at the right time for the right reasons.
At all times, Auburn University will protect its students, obey privacy laws, and deal with anyone on staff who violates our high standards.”
None of the four statements, including all three that came following the publication of ESPN’s report as well as AL.com’s story, address or clarify athletic director Jay Jacobs telling AL.com he had no knowledge of any investigation into Corey Myers’ conduct as of April 27.
Nor do any of the statements directly address the actions of senior women’s administrator Meredith Jenkins, who players told ESPN said they were risking arrest for taking text messages, which were allegedly of an “intimate nature” between a player and then-associate head coach Corey Myers, from a teammate’s phone and ordered them to delete the messages.
At the very least, the latest statement contradicts Auburn’s release announcing Clint Myers’ “retirement” on Wednesday and implies it was a forced “retirement” that otherwise would have been a termination.
What is left ambiguous in the last statement is when exactly “an investigation was promptly launched when allegations were made.” It’s not clear if that is in reference to former walk-on pitcher Alexa Nemeth’s Title IX compliant with the school on May 31 and her lawyer’s subsequent 14-page letter to Jacobs, Auburn University president Steven Leath and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on July 20, or to earlier allegations made by players that began in Sept. 2016, as outlined by ESPN.
Questions also remain as to why Clint Myers agreed in principle to a three-year contract extension in early July when there was supposedly an active Title IX investigation related to Nemeth’s complaint more than a month earlier.
AL.com requested a comment from Leath and Auburn University’s Board of Trustees as to whether there would be an investigation into the actions of Jenkins, Jacobs and Title IX director Kelley Taylor in response to the accusations outlined in the ESPN report. The only responses from the university were the two statements Sunday.
Ivey’s office also issued a statement Saturday night.
“Governor Ivey did receive a copy of the letter and immediately forwarded it to the Auburn University general counsel,” a spokesman for the governor’s office said. “Governor Ivey fully supports President Leath and is sure that Auburn University will fully protect all student-athletes.”
Auburn has not responded to any of AL.com’s public records requests, which began on March 21, nine days before Corey Myers resigned. On March 31, AL.com refiled its request to expand the scope of the inquiry, again on April 7 to further expand the inquiry and has filed three subsequent public records requests related to Auburn softball since Friday. None of those requests reference any players who were members of the team during the 2016-17 academic year in any capacity.
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Published at Mon, 28 Aug 2017 02:45:00 +0000