Butte College, the San Francisco 49ers and the mighty NFL are all in full back-pedal mode as they try to fend off questions on their handling of alleged assailants in assault cases.
MISCOMMUNICATION LEADS TO MIXED MESSAGE AT BUTTE
For Butte College this simply seems like a matter of mis-communication among school administrators. The case revolves around 19 year-old Brandon Banks. The former Vanderbilt Commodore was arrested along with three of his teammates in July of 2013 for the alleged sexual assault of a woman. The ensuing investigation led to Banks’ indictment and subsequent dismissal from the Vandy football team.
Fast-forward to this off-season. Athletic officials contacted Director of Student Affairs Al Renville asking him if there would be a problem in allowing Banks to come to Butte and play football while he was out on bond in the Tennessee case. Renville told local media on Monday that, “since Banks had not been prosecuted for anything, there was no reason he shouldn’t be able to attend the school and play football.”
When that story was broadcast on Monday, it certainly had to raise eyebrows, because on Tuesday the school’s president Dr. Kimberly Perry dismissed Banks from the team citing the school’s code of conduct policies. In her statement she said Banks should not be pre-judged just because he has been accused and indicted. But, she added that students and staff need to feel safe. She concluded by saying Banks will be allowed to stay in school to continue his studies, but can not play football.
The communication break-down at Butte is unfortunate. This situation could have easily been rectified if Student Affairs Chair Renville made a simple phone call and asked Perry if they should move forward and allow Banks to play. There comes a time in all jobs where we are tasked with making decisions. Sometimes these decisions are way above our pay grade and our superiors should be consulted before a final decision is made. That is certainly the case here.
This has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Brandon Banks. This is purely an image question. Sometimes it is not the best course of action to bring in a player or student of suspect character when it might create a black-eye for the institution. I think the circumstances change a bit when you consider Banks has been indicted. Certainly an indictment does not equate to guilt. But, this is not simply a mere arrest. There is enough evidence for an indictment. That should have sent up caution flags at Butte, it didn’t.
I believe athletics is free and clear in this situation. Unless there is something we do not know, it appears Athletic Director Craig Rigsbee and Head Coach Jeff Jordan did their due diligence in this case. They heard about a talented player that needed a place to play. He had some baggage. They went through the proper steps to address that baggage by contacting their superiors. Those superiors (Renville) said move forward. Instead, the administration at Butte didn’t get on the same page, and now has to deal with the fall-out.
Mistakes were made, but I don’t think athletics should shoulder them.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is asking you to believe that the long arm of the NFL’s investigative team could not retrieve the Ray Rice elevator assault video. I don’t believe him one bit. And, that is one of the NFL’s biggest problems. They lack credibility now on a variety of issues ranging from domestic assaults to concussion remedies and settlements.
The long investigative arm of the NFL is a distinguished group. They have former CIA, FBI and other federal investigators who work for them. How can a sleaze website in TMZ obtain the Ray Rice elevator video, yet the league’s hoard of investigative heavy-weights not be able to get their hands on it. My question is, COULD they not get the tape or WOULD they not get the tape ?
Goodell told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell in an interview this week that the NFL tried, but they just couldn’t get the tape because law enforcement would not hand it over. So, you don’t have one investigator on payroll with a connection to law enforcement that could have at least “SEEN” the tape ? That’s right, not only does Goodell want you to believe that NO ONE with the league could obtain the tape, he says not one person with the league could actually view the footage. This explanation is a farce. And, when you consider Goodell is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation where image and protecting the NFL shield is sacrosanct, his reasoning comes up short.
The league will persevere. The games will go on. And, Goodell will most likely keep his job, but he will forever be tarnished by his mis-handling of this case.
49ers AND THEIR BIG GAMBLE
With 10 arrests in the last three years you would think the San Francisco 49ers would have some sensitivity about their image and on what is happening in the world around them. Again, faced with possibly disciplining one of their players who was arrested for felony domestic assault the 49ers have chosen to tell the football world, “image be damned, lets just win games.”
Defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested by San Jose Police in the early morning hours of August 31st after he reportedly assaulted his pregnant girlfriend. While he has been arrested the district attorney has not filed formal charges while the San Jose Police continue their investigation.
Who knows, after all the fact-finding in this case we may learn that McDonald was arrested under false pre-tenses and that the charges are unfounded. But, there is also the chance the DA finds enough evidence to charge McDonald and then IMO the 49ers are in some deep trouble.
We first heard the 49ers stance last week. Head coach Jim Harbaugh was rolling out the ole “due process” claim. He said accusations do not directly correlate to guilt. Both of these are true, but it shows that Harbaugh and now team CEO Jed York are missing the point. They have a team that is making run-ins with the law common-place. 10 players arrested in less than three years means you should be more cautious about how you handle each legal case. The 49ers image now is one of a bunch of hooligans in shoulder pads and jerseys.
CEO York should be in tune with the 49ers brand and hold his employees to a higher standard since each time the 49ers are on the police blotter, the 49ers brand is tarnished. Harbaugh and York have said numerous times they have a no tolerance policy toward domestic violence regarding their players. If that is the case, why take McDonald off the field, let the investigation move forward, keep paying him and take the high road. By doing this, you let “due process” play out, and the player still makes his money.
The argument that McDonald is being punished if you don’t let him play rings hollow. You are still paying him. He can still earn a livelihood. Playing the game should not be a given, it’s a privilege. When you put yourself in suspect situations, I believe you are putting that privilege at risk. Unless you play for the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers will look awful if McDonald is charged and ultimately convicted of felony domestic assault on his pregnant girlfriend. I will never feel sorry for Harbaugh, York and company. They have decided to have a team with players of suspect character and they have to live with the consequences. The surprising thing is that the fans seem more than willing to embrace a team, that has the likes of Montana, Craig, Rice, and Lott turning away in disdain.