The University of Tennessee athletic department has a mess on its hands, much of which appears to be of its own doing.

After a report indicated Vols head football coach Butch Jones was alleged to have called out a player for helping an alleged rape victim, things have spiraled further out of control. As a result, athletic director Dave Hart called a press conference to address the public on Thursday afternoon.

That press conference was expected to be the subject of a protest by at least one group on campus, per a report from The Tennessean‘s Matt Slovin.

All of this stems from a Title IX lawsuit brought by six women against the university after allegations of rape against two UT football players, A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams. Both players have been charged and are awaiting trail as we speak.

Per a report from Sports Illustrated:

Tennessee is accused of creating a culture where student-athletes are not held responsible for sexual assaults and of having a judicial system that is biased against victims. 

The lawsuit now includes eight female plaintiffs and sworn statements from a former football player and former vice chancellor that support the claim of an unhealthy culture at the school. 

That former football player could well be Drae Bowles, who is no longer at the school and transferred to UT-Chattanooga in 2014. He is alleged to have been subject to a verbal assault from Jones, who said Bowles “betrayed the team” following his willingness to help an alleged victim of the assault by Johnson and Williams.

Reports indicate that Bowles was attacked by a fellow player and then later subject to another attack that had to be broken up by strength and conditioning staff. Jones didn’t discipline any of his players for their roles in the assault according to the lawsuit.

Jones’ alleged belittling of Bowles is steadfastly denied by the coach, however, as he released a statement earlier in the week.

During his press conference, as reported by The Tennessean, Hart told reporters that “I trust Butch Jones implicitly” and said he had no concerns regarding his own job security. Further defending his coaches, the Tennessee athletic director also seemed to place the blame on athletes, rather than their authority figures.

[Sports Illustrated]

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!