Former Tennessee linebacker Maggitt avoids lawsuit talk at combine
INDIANAPOLIS — Former Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt referred questions from media and from NFL teams to his attorney after his name surfaced in a sworn affidavit from a former teammate in connection with a Title IX lawsuit against the university.
Asked Saturday at the NFL scouting combine about an accusation from former Volunteers receiver Drae Bowles that Maggitt punched Bowles in Tennessee’s locker room in 2014, Maggitt told reporters to contact Knoxville attorney Jeff Hagood if they had any questions. Maggitt then said he has told NFL teams the same thing when they have asked about the allegation. Bowles claims Maggitt confronted him after Bowles took to the hospital a woman who claimed to have been raped by Tennessee players Michael Williams and A.J. Johnson. Williams and Johnson were charged with aggravated rape in February 2015 and are scheduled to stand trial separately later this year.
“Because my name was brought up in a lawsuit, I reached out to my lawyer and he’s going to handle everything,” Maggitt said Saturday. “I asked him to take care of all this stuff.” Asked what he has told NFL teams in meetings, Maggitt said this: “The same thing. Because it’s an ongoing case.” Asked whether NFL teams might frown upon a player who answers questions with “call my lawyer,” Maggitt said “that’s their decision."
"If, in fact, Mr. Bowles has sworn that my client, Curt Maggitt, punched him at any time… That is simply a false statement," Hagood said in a statement sent to SI.com.
Eight women have sued the University of Tennessee, claiming the school mishandled their allegations of sexual assault. Maggitt’s name appears in the complaint with regard to the alleged incident with Bowles, who later transferred to Chattanooga. “Maggitt, who had heard that rape had been reported, asked accusing questions to Bowles about the events the night before. Bowles told Maggitt what had happened,” the complaint reads. “Maggitt became violently upset, said that Bowles was trying to “[expletive] up A.J.” and suddenly punched Bowles in the mouth with great force, causing Bowles’s lip to bleed. Bowles fought back and threw punches before the fight and assault was broken up by teammates.”
One of Maggitt’s former teammates came to his defense shortly after news of the affidavit broke. Former Tennessee defensive end Marlon Walls called Paul Finebaum’s ESPN radio show this week and said Maggitt did not hit Bowles. "Drae Bowles became very angry at the fact he wasn't getting the playing time he wanted," Walls told Finebaum. Later, Walls said Maggitt did not hit Bowles. "I can't tell you if that was his motivation but what I can tell you is there is no way Curt Maggitt hit him in the face,” Walls told Finebaum. “There is no way anyone beat him up.”
In the same affidavit, Bowles accused Tennessee coach Butch Jones of calling Bowles a “traitor” for helping the woman. Jones denied that allegation in a statement. "The assertion that I ever attempted to belittle or demean a young man for taking action to help another person is absolutely false," Jones said in the statement.
While Maggitt didn’t answer any specific questions about Bowles’s claim, he did answer general questions about the shadow the lawsuit has cast over his alma mater. “I’m proud to be a former Vol and a part of Tennessee. Some things haven’t gone the way that we would like on the field or off the field, but I wouldn’t shy away from the university … There is no culture problem at Tennessee.”