For more than a year, Baylor University has continually been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The fallout from the school’s sexual assault scandal still hovers over our campus in large part because a new negative headline seems to emerge every week.
If you are anything like me, you are sick and tired of turning on ESPN or getting on Twitter and seeing that another allegation of rape has come to light, a former player has been arrested or a disgraced former president or football coach has made an unwarranted statement.
Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that these things won’t be going anywhere. Baylor will likely have four former football players on trial for sexual assault during the next calendar year, and it will undoubtedly be in the news.
Last Wednesday, former Baylor tight end Tre’Von Armstead was arrested on a sexual assault warrant. It was Armstead’s second arrest in nine days after Las Vegas police took him in on charges of assaulting a woman and kicking out a patrol car window while he resisted arrest. The sexual assault warrant is for a 2013 incident in which a woman alleged Armstead and former Baylor football player Shamycheal Chatman gang raped her. Chatman was arrested last Thursday.
Also last Wednesday, former Baylor and Boise State football player Sam Ukwuachu had his sexual assault conviction overturned and sent back to district court for a retrial because the original trial excluded text messages that could have been used as evidence.
Former star defensive end Shawn Oakman is still awaiting his trial for an alleged sexual assault in April of last year.
There are four former Baylor players who will likely be in court throughout this next year. You already know that ESPN’s Outside the Lines and others will cover each and every minute of it, and we will all continue to hear about the crimes committed in our community.
I am not blaming the media. They are not the ones on trial here. However, I think we all know that news of Armstead’s Las Vegas arrest was only national news because he was a Baylor football player — the fact that he had already been named in a rape allegation threw extra gas on the fire. No one would care if a former Texas A&M tight end who was a borderline starter was arrested, but that is a luxury Baylor is no longer afforded.
Again, the media is not at fault. Baylor deserves to be under a microscope and be scrutinized for the sins of our fellow students and the failures of our administrators. It is the job of ESPN, KWTX and the Lariat to report on newsworthy topics, and that is what the Baylor scandal is.
Based on our track record, more bad news is probably on the way. So, my fellow Baylor students and fans, prepare for more bad headlines. Know that when you check the news, Baylor and sexual assault will continue to be paired together. Be ready to hear tasteless rape jokes and calls to shut down our football team from rival fans and people in far corners of the country whose only impression of Baylor is the dark things they see in the news.
But remember that we can still hope. We can hope that our interim president, new football coach and athletic director have fixed or are working to fix the problems we have had here. We can hope that our leaders are now better people and care more about students than those that came before them. And we can hope that one day Baylor will only be newsworthy for being the special place that we know it is.