I don’t know Devonte Fields, other than the fact that he is a great football player for Texas Christian University. He has already been chosen as the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year. He was the conference’s defensive player of the year as a freshman in 2012. Fields missed most of the 2013 season with an injury and he was sorely missed by his team. The guy can really play.
Likewise, I don’t know anything about the background of Jon Taylor, a defensive lineman at the University of Georgia.
What I do know is that both men today stand accused of assaulting females.
According to a Ft. Worth police department report, Fields’ ex-girlfriend stated that he hit her and threatened her with a gun. The report said Fields used the words “I should blast you.”
A report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution cited a UGA Police report which stated that Taylor “had offensively used his hands to choke a female with whom Taylor had been living for several weeks.” The report also said Taylor had struck the woman “several times with a closed fist.”
First of all, there has to be an investigation into these initial allegations. There must be due process.
But if the investigation confirms what is in the police reports then these guys should be done. And not just done at their current schools. They should be done forever in college football.
I’ve said and written this for more than two decades. I believe in second chances. Everybody makes mistakes and deserves the opportunity to make it right, to get their lives back on track. We love the comeback story when people who make mistakes are contrite and try to do better.
For me, there is one exception to this rule: Domestic violence and sexual assault. There must be zero tolerance for it and severe and unambiguous punishment when it is proven. The young men who come to campus–be they athletes or not–have to know that they can be forgiven for just about every transgression once. But not this.
And I’ll be up front with this. My belief on this issue is largely formed by the fact that I am the father of a wonderful daughter and the grandfather of the most precious little girl in the world. If anybody hurt them in this manner, I would hope that the person’s future in college football would be the least of his concerns. I was going to use more forceful language here about the fate of someone who would hurt my girls, but my wife convinced me to take it out. Still, I don’t make any apologies for that point of view.
And I will also concede that we’re only talking about a handful of transgressors on this issue. But one is too many. That’s why IF–and I repeat IF–the allegations are proven, the punishment must be swift and it must be harsh. And even if the victim chooses not to bring charges, the authorities should still investigate the case. The law says you can do that.
Sexual assault on campus and the way investigations are handled (i.e., the Jameis Winston case at Florida State) is a huge issue with many, many layers. It is a much bigger problem than we can deal with in this small space.
What I am talking about is something very fundamental: If a college athlete is proven to have assaulted a female shouldn’t that person forever give up the right to be a college athlete?
If I’m wrong, tell me why.