Mark Humphrey, File
August 06, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Vanderbilt football program deleted and apologized for a tweet that was seen as a reference to sexual assault by a university where four former players face trials for rape.

The tweet sent Thursday morning was followed by the apology three hours later from the program's account. The deleted tweet was ''We are RELENTLESS, TOUGH AND INTELLIGENT, and ...'' with a photo reading ''WE DON'T NEED YOUR PERMISSION'' and signed by coach Derek Mason.

Vanderbilt wrote the original tweet was not a comment about sexual assault because sex without permission is always wrong and not acceptable. Athletic director David Williams issued a statement also apologizing for the tweet from Vanderbilt athletics.

''We deeply regret sending it and clearly failed to consider all of its implications before doing so,'' Williams said.

''The phrase `We don't need your permission' was condensed from a larger statement and intended as a message to motivate our players and fans and to address those who have doubts about the football team's competitiveness this season. A staff member shortened the statement for Twitter, failing to recognize how the abbreviated tweet could be interpreted.''

Mason wrote on Twitter himself last month that the Commodores want what some say they can't obtain, finishing with ''Sorry...We don't need your permission!''

Two former players convicted of raping an unconscious student in a dorm room in June 2013 are scheduled for a retrial Nov. 30 with two others awaiting trial.

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