Three years after Oregon’s men’s basketball team played three players in the NCAA Tournament who were under investigation for sexual assault—and were later kicked off campus by the school’s Title IX office—the team again played a player who was under criminal sexual assault investigation, according to the Daily Emerald.
Kavell Bigby-Williams, a transfer from Gillette College in Wyoming, has been under investigation for an alleged sexual assault at Gillette College since Sept. 19, 2016, and while University of Oregon police and the Oregon athletic department knew about the case, Bigby-Williams—who has now transferred to LSU—was allowed to play, even though he refused to cooperate with University of Oregon authorities.
How did that happen? According to the Daily Emerald, coach Dana Altman and the athletic department pleaded ignorance:
University of Oregon police have known about the case involving Bigby-Williams since Sept. 28 — two days after the fall 2016 academic term began — public records show. A UOPD report obtained by the Emerald shows UOPD detective Kathy Flynn attempted to interview Bigby-Williams about the incident twice, but Bigby-Williams avoided speaking to Flynn.
After Flynn’s two failed attempts to interview Bigby-Williams by phone, Bigby-Williams’ attorney, Nick Carter, called Flynn asking her not to contact his client anymore. UOPD informed NWCCD police, and NWCCD police never requested further assistance, UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver said.
Altman, athletic director Rob Mullens, and other athletic department staffers were aware UOPD requested Bigby-Williams’ contact information, but nobody asked why UOPD wanted to speak to him or the nature of the case, athletic department spokesman Greg Walker said.
This is yet another troubling anecdote about Altman’s lackadaisical attitude toward the seriousness of sexual assault. One of the three players who was kicked off campus for Title IX violations in 2014—part of allegations of a brutal gang rape—is Brandon Austin, who was previously suspended at Providence for sexual assault allegations before he transferred to Oregon. Altman said he didn’t know why Austin was suspended at Providence.
Even after potentially putting women on campus at risk by bringing in someone who was accused of sexual assault, and after failing to take action after seeing the police report about the gang rape—an event that had so much evidence attached that the district attorney said “there is no doubt” it occurred—Altman played another athlete under investigation for sexual assault without even requiring that the player cooperate with authorities.
Altman has somehow gotten a pass in the college basketball coaching world, likely due largely to his soft-spoken manner. He’s had glowing columns written about him as he’s turned Oregon into a basketball power, including a Final Four run last season.
However, with sexual assault rampant on college campuses, Altman has shown deliberate indifference to the issues within his own team. For that, it’s ridiculous that he’s still Oregon’s coach, and it’s an indictment of college sports and our universities that winning games seems to be worth this.