Mason Left Without Options in Wright Statement

Greg Arias

Since news broke with allegations of sexual assault involving former or current Vanderbilt University football players, fans on social media have flooded the forum with questions. Some have been answered, others could soon be, while some could remain unanswered.

The question that tops the list concerns head football coach Derek Mason and his October 16, 2018 statement on the injury to then Commodore football player Charles Wright. 

Wright is at the center of this storm as one of three either current or former players that have been publicly named and accused of sexual assault or rape. 

To answer this, and perhaps other questions, we need to take a more in-depth look at the timeline of events surrounding this question. 

February 3, 2018: The alleged incident involving Wright, and his accuser reportedly occurred at approximately 8 am that morning 

April 30, 2018: Accuser reported a sexual assault to Title IX office through Project Safe.

May 3, 2018: Accuser met with Title IX office of Vanderbilt University to open their investigation.

May 4, 2018: Accuser filed a police report with Vanderbilt University Police (VUPD), who requested assistance from the "Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) CID sex crimes unit due to a reported sexual assault that had occurred in February 2018." NOTE, The above quote taken from the MNPD report obtained by Commodore Country. 

Wright was named the suspect by his accuser, who stated Wright had raped her in his dorm room.   

May 7, 2018: Wright is charged by TitleIX with a violation of university policy and issued a stay-away order. 

May-June 2018: Title IX office meet with Wright, the accuser, and friends of both who had spoken with both subjects about the alleged incident.

July 7, 2018: District attorney Tom Bottoms declined to prosecute and cleared case by exception because of insufficient evidence. NOTE, Information is taken from MNPD Supplimanetal Exceptional Clearance Report obtained by Commodore Country. There is also electronic evidence that suggests the incident was consensual, according to the same report. 

September 29, 2018: Wright suffered an injury (torn hamstring) in a game against Tennessee State.

October 9, 2018: In his weekly press conference, Mason said Wright returned to practice and was expected to play against Florida.

October 10, 2018: The Title IX office issued its findings, which found Wright responsible for sexual assault-intercourse and sexual assault-contact by a preponderance of evidence standard. Wright was dismissed from the team following the release of those findings.

Oct.10, 2018: Sources close to Charles Wright indicate that after hearing of the findings under Title IX against him, Wright did advise the university of his intentions to appeal the decision as outlined in the university student handbook. This began a 10-day window of which Wright would be allowed to initiate his appeal. 

October 13, 2018: Wright did not play against Florida.

October 16, 2018: Mason said Wright did not play because he was still recovering from injury.

October 16, 2018: Wright was granted an extension to file his appeal.

While it is unclear of the specific time in which Mason became aware of Wright's situations, sources indicate Mason was advised that Wright was in the process of appealing the Title IX findings  

Because Wright was in the appeals process window,  Mason could not comment on that situation to avoid potential violations of due process afforded to all students.

At this point, it's time for a refresher on some legalities surrounding the Title IX process and coaches as first reported here in a June 25 article titled "Sources: Vanderbilt Athletic Department OK'ed Wright For Pro-Day.

Federal and state privacy law preserves the confidentiality of Title IX investigations. Coaches are not privy to the investigative facts or appeal process. That is the responsibility of the university's Title IX office.

Furthermore, coaches have no power to access or deny any student or student-athletes to come onto campus. That would be at the discretion of the university and or its athletics department.

So what of Mason and his comment as to Wright's injury?

The likelihood is that Mason had been informed of the situation, but was powerless to even comment.  

In short, Mason was left in a no-win situation when he stepped onto the platform that day. 

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven.

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