Missouri athletic department responds to criticism in upcoming book

09/12/2013 6:03 PM

09/12/2013 6:03 PM

Five days before “The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian hits bookstores, the Missouri athletic department issued a response after reviewing an advance copy of the book.

One of the chapters in the book, which will be released Sept. 17, reportedly chronicles former MU tailback Derrick Washington’s 2011 conviction for sexually assaulting a former tutor. The book also reportedly contains a quote from a prosecutor in Washington’s case that said MU’s tutoring program for athletes was a “sexually charged environment.”

Washington, a Raymore-Peculiar graduate, was dismissed from the Missouri football program Sept. 1, 2010, two days after he was charged with one count of felony deviate sexual assault for assaulting a former tutor in her sleep.

“The allegations made toward the environment of our academic support program in this chapter were unfortunate,”

the statement from MU’s athletic department said

, in part. “Although the authors isolate this small example from a much larger group which currently includes 520 student-athletes and approximately 150 tutors who do outstanding work in a professional and safe environment, we believe this was not and is not reflective of the culture of the academic program.”

Missouri launched an independent review of its Total Person Program in the wake of the allegations against Washington, which Tigers athletic director Mike Alden addressed when he spoke to the Tiger Club of KC last month.

In Thursday’s statement, the athletic department again defended its tutoring program: “The Department of Athletics takes great pride in the academic performance of our 520 student-athletes. Our graduation success rates and Academic Progress Rates (APR) continue to be some of the highest at both the conference and national levels. Without question, the academic support services offered through the Total Person Program are a major contributor to this success and we are very appreciative of the dedication provided by the men and women who serve as members of our tutorial program.”

A review by Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel said the book contains interviews with Washington’s victim, Washington, his parents and key witnesses.

Wetzel’s review said the chapter also included this quote from Andrea Hayes, a Boone County assistant prosecutor: “Too many tutors were having sex with the athletes, and really filthy conversations were going on between players and girls. It was a sexually charged environment. It was a joke — the whole tutorial situation.”

Hayes later clarified her quote in the book to The Star by saying it was not her opinion and reflected what tutors had told her.

In its statement, Missouri’s athletic department denies being contacted by the book’s authors, a claim that is in dispute.

“I’ve read the statement issued by Chad Moller,” Benedict wrote in an email to The Star, referring to MU’s associate athletic director for media relations. “He is mistaken. I wrote to him personally on March 19, 2013, and requested an opportunity to interview Coach Gary Pinkel. The following day I wrote directly to Coach Pinkel. I have retained copies of both written communications.”

Washington, a graduate of Raymore-Peculiar, served four months in prison for the sexual assault conviction. He played last season at Tuskegee, where he rushed for 1,679 yards and 14 touchdowns and was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which recognizes the best player in NCAA Division II.

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