The University of Missouri-Columbia’s Title IX investigation into basketball player Terrence Phillips includes complaints from at least four women, some of whom have made reports of harassment, physical abuse or the filming of a sexual encounter without consent, multiple sources have told The Star.
Two students told The Star they filed complaints this week, after news broke last weekend that the office was already investigating Phillips.
Another student had confirmed earlier that she had already shared information with the university’s Title IX office by Friday, when Phillips was indefinitely suspended from the basketball team. That student showed The Star an email confirming that her information would be included in the investigation. The other two students said they were expecting similar emails from the university but had not yet received them.
The school had already received at least one other complaint that had prompted the university to open an investigation against Phillips, according to the university email sent to the student. The Star was unable to reach that complainant.
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The three students spoke to The Star on the condition of anonymity.
One of the students said Phillips had physically abused her on multiple occasions.
Another told The Star she reported Phillips had filmed a sexual encounter without her consent or knowledge a year ago. A friend who said she was with that student on the night of the encounter and walked in on the filming also spoke to The Star. Another person the student told immediately afterward gave The Star the same account of the incident.
A third student told The Star that Phillips repeatedly sent messages of a sexual nature, despite being asked to stop multiple times.
Reached by The Star on Wednesday for comment, Phillips said he was cooperating with the investigation.
“There are two sides to every story,” Phillips said. “Some people really want to say ‘Me too’ because apparently it’s the cool thing to do. I have a side. I am cooperating with Mizzou like I was instructed. Unfortunately I can’t say a lot, but at the end of the investigation, I intend to be cleared from the accusations. People who know me know this isn’t me.”
Phillips was indefinitely suspended from the men’s basketball team for a “violation of team policy” on Friday, when at least one complainant was informed that a Title IX investigation had been reopened.
Federal law requires university Title IX offices to investigate reports of sexual discrimination and violence on school campuses. Title IX investigations determine whether university policies have been broken and are conducted independently of law enforcement.
The university issued a statement Sunday that said it “cannot confirm or deny any actions from the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX.”
“We want to reiterate that the safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount,” the statement continued. “The university takes alleged violations of Title IX very seriously, and any allegations are investigated thoroughly and fairly. In some cases, interim measures are taken while an investigation is pending.”
Although Phillips has struggled as Missouri’s third-string point guard under new coach Cuonzo Martin, Phillips averaged the second-most minutes on the team during each of his first two seasons at Mizzou.
During this time, he became one of the more visible athletes on campus and around Columbia.
He served last year as a member of the Southeastern Conference’s Men’s Basketball Leadership Council, which provides student-athletes with “opportunities to engage with campus leaders and Conference office staff.”
And this past summer, Phillips worked as a bartender at Willie’s — an uncommon job for a scholarship athlete — and he later used the Columbia sports bar as one of the drop-off sites for a holiday toy drive he organized for his own charity, Beyond the Ball. In spring of 2017, he campaigned for the current student body president and vice president.
He had also promoted student involvement in It’s On Us, an organization that seeks to end sexual assault.
Until the news of the Title IX investigation of Phillips broke, the junior from Orange County, Calif., served on the MU chancellor’s standing committee for student unions. Missouri Students Association President Nathan Willett has since asked Phillips to resign from the committee but said he is open to reevaluating the situation as the Title IX process plays out.
Phillips is not permitted to participate in any basketball team activities while he serves the indefinite suspension.
Martin said he had not heard from MU’s Title IX office about Phillips prior to Friday, about 20 minutes before his team left Columbia for its Saturday game at Mississippi State. On Friday evening, the program announced Phillips’ indefinite suspension in a statement and he did not travel with the Tigers to the game.
“Phillips’ future status with the program will be determined in coordination with campus and department leadership,” the statement read.
This past December, when Phillips’ Beyond the Ball raised $6,915 to buy toys for children, Phillips told The Star that, despite his drop in playing time, he was not interested in transferring from Mizzou. He said he felt “tied” to the Mizzou community.
“The whole kind of basis behind it was to give back to Columbia, a place that I’ve called home for about three years now, a place that I’ve really embraced,” Phillips told The Star. “I’ve embraced Mizzou. I’ve embraced the black and gold. It can do no wrong for me.”
He said he wanted to give back for as long as he could.
“My face is going to be known,” he said then. “My name is going to be known in a certain way.”