University of Missouri

Missouri isn’t only team singled out in ‘The System’

Updated: 2013-09-25T04:20:48Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

A new book doesn’t single out Missouri as the only college football program where student tutors were alleged to have sex with the players they were paid to help academically.

Still, “The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football” written by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, which went on sale last week, doesn’t paint a flattering picture of Missouri’s Total Person Program.

Chapter 12, titled “The Tutor: Friends with benefits,” briefly details accusations made by former tutors at other schools.

Georgia football players slept through tutoring sessions, tutors did homework for South Carolina football players and football players at the University of Miami routinely had sex with tutors, but most of the 21-page chapter focused on former Missouri running back Derrick Washington’s 2011 conviction for sexually assaulting a former tutor.

“If you’ve been anywhere near this issue, most of these cases don’t result in convictions,” Benedict said, explaining why Washington’s case was included in the book, a 386-page peek-behind-the-curtain of college football. “It’s very rare that a student-athlete or a pro athlete who’s accused of a sex crime gets convicted.”

The book — which includes interviews with Washington and his family as well as two former tutors, including Washington’s victim and her roommate, who also was a tutor at Missouri — describes the academic center as “a hotbed for hooking up.”

Boone County prosecutor Andrea Hayes, a self-proclaimed Missouri fan who prosecuted Washington, laid some responsibility at MU’s feet for ineffective oversight of the interactions between athletes and tutors.

“The university has created this environment,” Hayes is quoted as saying in the book. “When you put a room of athletes together with attractive girls, some of whom like to sleep with athletes, you are just asking for trouble. It creates a sexually charged environment, and athletes get an opinion of girls that is skewed. Tutors who are in it for the right reasons get lumped in with the others. (Their) tutoring program needs to be revamped.”

In an interview with The Star earlier this month, Hayes clarified her remarks, saying that she had no evidence Missouri knew about nor turned a blind eye to the “friends with benefits” system that had wormed into the tutoring program.

“It’s not unique to Missouri,” Benedict said. “I don’t think it’s like this on every campus, but I don’t think it’s uncommon on campuses where the Division I football is Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC. For those type of conferences, this is not unusual.”

Also in the book, Washington’s mother, Sarah, said she was told by Missouri coach Gary Pinkel that he met with Missouri’s Board of Curators “for over an hour” trying to convince them to allow Derrick to redshirt during the trial, but that the curators insisted he be dismissed from the team.

Missouri Board of Curators chairman Wayne Goode and another curator told The Associated Press they never met with Pinkel nor discussed Washington’s future with the Tigers, but Benedict was confident in Sarah’s recollection.

“I found Sarah and her husband to be among the most credible people we talked to,” Benedict said. “They were incredibly genuine, honest and forthright. I have no reason to doubt anything that either of them said. Did we trust what she said? Yes, and I asked them about it more than once. I interviewed them more than once, and she stood by it.”

Missouri denies being contacted by the authors for comment, but Benedict said he has emails he sent to Pinkel and Chad Moller, the Tigers’ associate athletic director for strategic communications, seeking comment.

Before the book went on sale, Missouri defended its tutoring program, saying in a statement that an independent review concluded the Washington case was an isolated incident.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com.

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