Last week, Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook was in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist when a report broke digging up Westbrook’s past issues with domestic violence. Despite the unflattering information dug up by Tulsa World, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops stands by his claim he and the Sooners program perform background checks on all potential recruits.
If that’s true, then one of two things seemingly happened. The first would be Oklahoma’s background check sucked. The other would be that the background check didn’t suck and Stoops chose to let it slide in hopes of landing a truly talented wide receiver. Neither looks particularly good, but at least there is a margin for error attached to the first option, or perhaps just plausible deniability.
“We have extensive background checks,” Stoops said to reporters on Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I’m not part of that. Again, so I’m not sure how it happened.”
What was allegedly missed during this background check was a pair of arrests and a charge for domestic violence incidents Westbrook was previously involved in. In one case, Westbrook was accused of throwing the mother of his two children to the ground in 2012. Westbrook was also accused of beating the same woman in 2013, according to police reports. But Westbrook was never convicted for either incident, which may be why the information was not found by whoever was in charge of Oklahoma’s background check system.
It seems the university isn’t even in charge of their own background checks on players.
#Sooners athletic department says background checks on prospects are done by outside agency. Also told less than half of Big 12 perform them
— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) December 13, 2016
This is all especially relevant because we are in a time when issues like domestic violence against women are more and more a concern in the football world, and Oklahoma isn’t exactly a stranger to this discussion thanks to running back Joe Mixon.
Whatever is going on, Stoops should be held responsible for stressing improvements in the background check policy, because he is ultimately responsible for the players he brings into the program. If he ignores that responsibility, then he should be held accountable for things like this in the future.