Over the weekend a story broke concerning the University of Tennessee football program. Here is what was written online.
Tennessean.com – A sweeping lawsuit filed by six former female students against the University of Tennessee last week argues its athletics department has long condoned a “hostile sexual environment” stretching back to the mid-1990s, citing nearly a dozen instances of former student athletes accused of sexual assault — including NFL star Peyton Manning. The allegation that Manning sexually assaulted a female athletics trainer while in college was first reported in 2003, but on Saturday a widely shared New York Daily News column about the alleged incident and a subsequent lawsuit filed by the trainer drew widespread attention on social media.
The UT lawsuit filed last week calls out an alleged 1996 incident in which Manning, a UT football player, was accused of placing his naked genitals on the face of the female trainer while she was examining him. Manning has denied the allegations and said he was “mooning” a fellow athlete. The trainer, Dr. Jamie Naughright, later sued Manning after he described her in a book as “vulgar mouthed.”
The lawsuit says “in 1996, (then) Jamie Whited, the first female associate trainer in UT’s history, reported an incident to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Knoxville alleging UT football player Peyton Manning had, in brief, ‘sat on her face’ while she was assessing the extent of an injury. The incident was settled in 1997 … conditioned on the victim leaving her job at the university.” The UT lawsuit cites a USA Today article from 2003 about the woman’s subsequent lawsuit against Manning for his reference to her in his book.
Just when it looked like the University of Tennessee was finally going to get their football program turned around, this story breaks out. Just when it looked like they had started to right the ship, a lawsuit gets filed. Just when it looked like everything was great in the world of Peyton Manning, this incident resurfaces.
Even though these seem to be innocent pranks intending no harm done by naive teenagers, in today’s social media safe space sue happy world we live in they are not. Somebody at the University of Tennessee has to have some common sense that these pranks and actions are not going to go unnoticed in our society today where everyone has a smart phone with the world at their fingertips. Things that used to be kept private are now made public in a matter of seconds via an upload to a bevvy of social media outlets.
This does not look good for the University of Tennessee. Conduct like this is and should not be taken lightly in our world today. Too many times incidents like this have been covered up or swept under the rug in order to keep the face of the University, athletic program, and athletes from getting muddied. Let’s hope that is not the case concerning this.