Though the Tennessee Volunteers football program has shown improvement under coach Butch Jones, the team culture has come under fire in recent years regarding player conduct, particularly in a rape case last year.
That case earned another disturbing layer today, as a report from The Tennessean states that Vols wide receiver Drae Bowles was twice assaulted by teammates for taking the rape victim, who claims that she was sexually assaulted by former players Mike Williams and A.J. Johnson, to the hospital and supporting her decision to report what happened.
Per the report, a “hit” was put out on Bowles by former Vols defensive back Geraldo Orta.
According to the lawsuit, Orta told University of Tennessee police he felt “Bowles betrayed the team and that where (Orta) came from, people got shot for doing what Bowles did.”
This development comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed by six anonymous women yesterday, in which the university is accused of “deliberate indifference” towards sexual assaults committed by football players. The Title IX suit claims that Tennessee “has created a student culture that enables sexual assaults by student-athletes, especially football players, and then uses an unusual, legalistic adjudication process that is biased against victims who step forward.”
It’s awful enough that the university has a lawsuit to fight, but the fact that there is now the allegation that a football player who HELPED one of the victims was targeted for doing so is a whole different ballgame.
Look, regardless of what happened, it’s clear that the football culture at Tennessee needs to change. Williams is set to go on trial on rape charges next month, and a Title IX lawsuit brought forth by six different women doesn’t just happen for the sake of happening.
This case is going to be one to watch, and one where Tennessee will almost certainly not emerge unscathed.
Stay tuned to Campus Sports for further updates on the case.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports