Thursday morning, the Nashville Post reported that Jaborian McKenzie returned to the field last weekend.
McKenzie returned three kickoffs for 80 yards and caught one pass for four yards for Alcorn State in a 51-7 loss to Mississippi State at Starkville.
This left many of us wondering how you can be a part of this —
Sources said that some time after the three other football players entered the room, objects were used to penetrate the victim, though it is not clear which defendants took part in this act. During the alleged assault, according to sources, Vandenburg took pictures and video on his phone, and later sent four individuals the graphic footage.
— and be welcome on campus at Alcorn State, let alone be welcome on their football team.
Well, later Thursday, his coach, Jay Hopson, explained, "But right now, from everything I know, everything that’s been shown to me through numerous phone calls and talking to many people involved in this case, I can’t find anything that says this kid is guilty.”
Think on that, women of Alcorn State.
The very best thing you can say about McKenzie in this situation — based on what's been reported — is that he's the kind of guy who stands around while his buddies stick things in a passed-out woman (and some sick fuck takes pictures). The best thing you can say about him — again, based on the reports — is that he doesn't help people who are being assaulted right in front of him.
The most you can say about him the courts will determine. But even the least makes a gal wonder how safe the women of Alcorn State are. I mean, what's the school going to do? Give McKenzie a chaperone to make sure he behaves? Maybe two or three other big guys to hang out with him at all times?
He went 84 yards. That's the distance that, to Alcorn State, is worth the safety of its female students.
Like Travis Waldron over at Think Progress says, "a player can face felony rape charges and his school can handle it the way it should, and a new school that cares too much about football and too little about everything else will be there to let that kid play."
That's pretty depressing.
By the end of the day on Thursday, after the story had been picked up nationally, Alcorn State President M. Christopher Brown II announced that McKenzie would not be playing any more football for the school.
"Alcorn failed to sufficiently examine the allegations against McKenzie before allowing him to participate in our football program," said President Brown. "In an effort to provide educational opportunities to a Southwest Mississippi student, Alcorn State University made an error in judgment."
President Brown added, "Participation in Alcorn State University intercollegiate athletics is a privilege and not a right. Intercollegiate athletics is an extracurricular forum for student engagement intended to provide an outlet for maturation, growth, and development. And McKenzie has been notified that the privilege to play has been withdrawn."
So I guess they're admitting they didn't read the BuzzFeed article? Or they thought no one else had? That excuse is strange to me.
And, yes, McKenzie is innocent until proven guilty. But there's a difference between "Let's find a way to keep this guy in college as his case winds its way through the courts, while also guaranteeing the safety of the women who might encounter him" and "The couch is telling the Washington Post that the guy is innocent and that's why he should be allowed to play football."
One of those approaches tries to balance what's best for McKenzie vs. what's best for the women who are his peers. The other is just what's best for Alcorn State football. And the team still lost the game McKenzie played in.
This is the strange thing about this "football first" attitude. Right now, on Alcorn State's roster — and we'll get to see him play next game — is a kid who could have also contributed to a losing game without, at the very least, first standing around watching someone get assaulted. Why should Alcorn State ever have given McKenzie that kid's spot?
President Brown is promising a top-down review, but I'm not sure this is the kind of thing covered in rules and guidelines. It comes down to what your school's priorities are. That Alcorn State would prioritize the needs of a kid who's only on campus because he's not welcome at Vanderbilt anymore over its own students says something is rotten all the way through.
I'm not sure how they're going to fix that. But they owe it to their students to try.