On Thursday evening, this story was sort of breaking as a result of a story published by The Daily Beast. Torrey Green was a football player for Utah State while Matt Wells was the head coach. Green played his senior year in 2015 and this story sort of “broke” as a result of some investigative journalism by The Salt Lake Tribune in March of 2016. In March of this year, Green was sentenced to 26 years in prison for 8 charges of sexual assault. The original story from March of 2016 notes that four of the victims notified the Logan police department, but they did not interview Green or even contact him or ever file any charges against Green. Three of the victims were Utah State students and reported the assaults to the Title IX department of Utah State.
In August of 2016, Wells made the statement that he was “recently” made aware of the allegations:
Wells, who has dismissed high-profile players from the team for misconduct in the past, said he wasn’t aware about the accusations until about a week ago.
“What you know is what I know,” he said. “I don’t know much more. They were all news to me very, very recently.”
Yesterday, Wells released a statement where he said that he was notified in January of 2016 (note that above, he said that he learned of the allegations in August and I have also typed up the statement so I hope there are no errors on my part):
While at Utah State, I was asked to attend a meeting with Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Torrey Green in January 2016 regarding an allegation. It is important to note that Torrey had already finished his senior season in 2015. I am well aware that I have a responsibility to report any possible Title IX issues. It is the Title IX Office’s responsibility to investigate an allegation, so it would have been completely wrong for me to have done so. While I followed all Utah State procedures, I am deeply saddened for the hurt suffered by these women.
To parse this statement, the meeting in January of 2016 was regarding “an allegation”. And it is true, that Green had finished his collegiate career in 2015. Wells also acknowledges that he has a, “responsibility to report any possible Title IX issues” so it is clear that Wells is saying that he understands that he has a duty to report any issue. The presumption is that Wells is acknowledging that he would have reported anything he learned. Wells also acknowledges that it is Title IX’s responsibility to investigate allegations so I don’t know if Wells is absolving himself here by stating that he reported to the Title IX office and because their allegation came up with nothing, he didn’t suspend Green? Wells’ last statement is that he followed procedure seems to emphasize that whatever Wells did, he followed procedure and the sentence prior to that acknowledges that procedure.
Someone at KFYO has access to the RedRaiderSports message boards (you have to have a subscription to read the thread and I do not have a subscription) and Texas Tech Senior Associate Athletics Director Robert Giovannetti commented under username “Robert G the Robfather” and said that Wells did not know until a month after Green had played his final game:
In a thread titled, Matt Wells statement, Giovannetti, posting under the screen name ‘Robert G The Robfather’ (and with a photo of himself in the avatar) said, “He was made aware a month after the kid had played his final game.” Giovannetti also said in reference to Texas Tech’s statement, “it (sic) is in the statement. The meeting was in January 2016, Green’s last game was in December 2015.”
What this doesn’t say as well as Wells’ statement is that Wells had no knowledge of Green’s transgressions until January of 2016 and that he did not know the scope of Green’s transgressions until August of 2016. The concern is that Wells did know about the allegations, but there were no charges filed or not actual suspension from the Title IX office and and so Wells did not suspend Green because there was no formal suspension by the Title IX office.
I’m asking out of ignorance, is this the correct procedure? It seems that this would be proper procedure and we also live in a society where a person is innocent until proven guilty so the question is if Wells should have suspended Green outside of what the Title IX office was doing?
Of course, the other issue here is that there’s not a coordinated statement that’s being made by the athletic department and there are members of the athletic department providing clarification about a pretty serious story on a message board. There should be a more formal statement from the athletic department about the following: 1) when did Wells know about Green’s allegations regarding potential sexual assaults; 2) did athletic director Kirby Hocutt investigate these allegations prior to hiring Wells; 3) what did Wells find out in January of 2016 and August of 2016; and 4) why are there inconsistent statements by Wells about what and when he knew in 2016.
I also understand that there has seemingly always been a very cozy relationship between RedRaiderSports and the athletic department. I believe that Giovannetti was an active member or perhaps an owner of that site at some time and I honestly do not know who owns the website now or the relationship between any of the owners and the athletic department. I will also fully admit that this may not really matter one iota and is a side-story to what Wells knew and when, the problem of course is that an athletic department official made a statement on a message board rather than on the official site is maybe not the best way to handle this situation.
My official stance is that if Wells knew about Green’s sexual assaults at some point during his playing career and did not follow the correct procedure, whatever that was at Utah State, then Wells should be terminated immediately. This of course presumes that the correct procedure is to notify Title IX and let them determine if a player should be suspended. And to be completely truthful, I do not know what the correct procedure actually is. This is going to play out, there will be depositions taken, emails and phone records will be obtained and it is better to simply address this head-on right now rather than wait. And of course, this may not be something that can be determined right now. Texas Tech probably doesn’t have access to Wells’ emails from Utah State or phone records to determine if there was a phone call to or from Green and between Wells at the time the allegations were made.
And we also have questions about how far the interview process delved into this situation between Hocutt and Wells. I got the feeling from the interview process that Hocutt identified Wells quickly and I don’t know if there was an open records request as to if the athletic department hired to vet Wells (if anyone at all) and his background. Of course, I don’t know if Hocutt hired outside counsel to vet Chris Beard either or Tim Tadlock.
We’re probably not going to get answers today and we may not get any answers for months, maybe until discovery can get underway. The least of my concerns is the football program and I’m sort of just trusting that the people with the authority to do the right thing will do the right thing when it is the appropriate time.