Interviewing Art Briles to be Southern Miss's OC wasn't the first time Jay Hopson tried to bring someone connected to sexual assault cases into his program.

By Michael Shapiro
February 08, 2019

Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson recruited a junior college player in January previously accused of sexual assault, according to a report from The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach that also details how Hopson recruited a "registered sex offender and a player who saw game action while awaiting rape charges," when he served as Alcorn State's head coach from 2012 to ’15. 

Hopson came under fire this week when he interviewed former Baylor head coach Art Briles for the school's offensive coordinator position. Briles was fired in May 2016 amid controversy regarding Baylor's handling of rape allegations against football players. 

Hopson and Southern Miss's staff recruited junior college transfer Charles West in January despite accusations he raped two women at knifepoint in 2015, according to Auerbach's report. West ultimately agreed to a plea deal for an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge. Hopson reportedly "did not notify Southern Miss of West’s past," and allowed the transfer on campus in January before the school denied his admission after a staffer read about his case in a Dallas Morning News article, according to Auerbach.

Southern Miss announced it would not hire Briles on Wednesday. Hopson released a statement following the school's announcement, stating he "disagreed" with its decision. 

"Although I respect the decision of Dr. Rodney Bennett, I disagree with it," Hopson said in his statement. “I am so grateful for the grace and forgiveness God gives me which allows me to inherit his kingdom, which I do not deserve. I have interviewed Art Briles for an assistant position at Southern Miss and I believe he is a man who deserves a second chance. He is a man that seemed sincere and humble in his interview and personally he committed no crime."

Hopson is 21–16 in three seasons at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles went 6–5 in 2018.

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