OTC: ESPN Makes Mizzou Look Lost, Confused & Negligent In Rape/Suicide Story

“No one on the (Mizzou) coaching staff … and no one in our administration nor any staff members, were to the best of our knowledge, ever told about this event while Sasha was alive. Had Sasha told any of our staff that she felt she had been assaulted, we expect that our staff would have reported it immediately to the proper authorities.”
Chad Moller, MU athletic department spokesperson, in an official statement from Mizzou regarding the alleged 2011 rape of Sasha Menu Courey, a former scholarship swimmer at Mizzou, MU Athletics
GH: The words rape and suicide are ugly words that seem to find their way into the lives of college students all too often. Missouri is dealing with yet another alleged rape that involves one or more members of their football team. Sasha’s suicide in 2012 made this story a perfect fit for ESPN’s Outside The Lines program. It is an ugly subject made even uglier when it is sensationalized by ESPN and poorly defended by Mizzou’s athletic department. Read on.

“Missouri spokesman Chad Moller said yesterday that Athletic Director Mike Alden was out of town until Tuesday and unavailable for comment. I would think the modern convenience known as the telephone would make it possible for Alden to discuss this situation from wherever he is. It’s disappointing when the head of an organization isn’t out front during a crisis.”
Joe Walljasper, columnist, Columbia Tribune
GH: Unfathomable. Mike Alden has to be available to address this subject and answer the questions that a story like this raises. Out of town? I am going to guess Alden would not be unavailable if a large donor needed to contact him about making a financial contribution to Mizzou.

“It makes no sense to fault the University for not launching an investigation based on two vague sentences in a news article about Sasha’s journal when Sasha’s parents did not choose to bring that information to the attention of the University or law enforcement and request an investigation. This further shows the flawed and skewed reporting by ESPN.”
Official Statement from Mizzou Athletics Department after the airing of the story on ESPN
GH: Greg Rhodenbaugh, who was hired on as the Tigers swim coach in May 2010, was made to look like an absolute clueless dolt by the ESPN cameras and editing team. It is a shame ESPN relied on theatrical editing and a slick production team to tell a story that needed no help in being compelling and sad.

“They (Mizzou officials) were the ones that had all the information of Sasha’s correspondence. We didn’t have any of that. We were the ones asking for information in order to understand. We didn’t know anything. We didn’t know they needed our permission to investigate something that happened, and they were aware of it for over a year. This is the part that kind of has me puzzled.”
Lynn Courey, Sasha’s mother, Columbia Tribune
GH: As a parent it makes me sad to think a college kid could be so forgotten within an educational system that her tragedy becomes little more than a PR problem for the school. Mizzou’s staunch defense leaves me cold. They act like their hands were legally tied from helping the victim and her parents. If so, what a sad legal tale this is.

“I do question the athletic department’s interest in proactively policing its athletes when the results could be unpleasant. Nothing ever seems to happen until the media reports an incident. It seems reasonable to think coaches and support personnel who are around athletes every day would hear things before random reporters do.”
Joe Walljasper, columnist, Columbia Tribune
GH: Well said, Joe. Someone needs to ask Mike Alden and his staff why ESPN knew more about the goings on with Sasha than they did. BTW, since this story broke on ESPN, Mizzou has launched an internal investigation of the 2011 alleged rape. I am guessing MU demands a bit more promptness from their students attending class.

“If Missouri wasn’t in the SEC are they even doing this story? I’ve broken a few stories in my day and I know how these things work. What I’ve heard about the SEC is that they’ll do anything to each other. I’m not saying that happened but I think it could have. .. Right or wrong, that’s my impression of that league.”
Kevin Kietzman, 810 AM
GH: If only Mizzou had stayed in the Big 12 they could have avoided all this unpleasantness. Right or wrong, Kietzman is not above making the most ridiculous statements he can to remain relevant.

Be8bbKDIMAEOq_C“Played football with @MIZ_MAUK7_ZOU and @Levi_Copelin today at Stankowski.”
Ryan Mathewson, @RyanMathewson, a student at Missouri, Twitter
GH: I saw this photo retweeted by Maty Mauk, Mizzou’s sophomore-to-be quarterback. It made me smile to think that Mauk and Copelin aren’t so far removed from the rest of the kids at MU that they can’t stop and join in a pick-up game of flag football on the campus rec field. There are still a lot of good things that happen on college campuses. Their stories also deserve to be told.

“You guys can do that,’ Haith told reporters about emphasizing the next three games — at Arkansas, Kentucky at home and at Florida. ‘I’m sure you’ll write all you need to write about that, measuring our team up based on what we do these next three games.’ Indeed, we will. And for good reason. … And these next three games — you can actually stretch it to six, if you include a road game at Ole Miss followed by home games against Arkansas and Tennessee — are at the heart of how this team will be judged and remembered.”
Sam Mellinger, in his Sunday column discussing the importance of Missouri’s next three SEC basketball games, Kansas City Star
GH: Mellinger’s column was perfectly timed. On the same Sunday in January that Vahe Gregorian and The Kansas City Star decided to use 75% of the sports page’s front page on the Royals, Mellinger scored with his column on Frank Haith and his teetering role at Missouri. Read on.

“If he misses the tournament, the questions (and worse) about Haith will carry much more weight and legitimacy. That will affect everything, from recruiting to morale around the program and support from fans and boosters. This was supposed to be an opportunity for Mizzou, a chance to push up from a pack of nice programs nationally to a higher class of perennial contenders. Time is running out on that, for the program and its coach. It will need to pull through one of the few difficult stretches an SEC schedule has to offer. Haith’s team is plenty talented enough to do it and make the NCAA Tournament. It’s just that three years in, the program was supposed to be above needing to. ”
Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star
GH: This is the column Mellinger needs to write more often. This one sat up and barked.

“The bottom line why I think they’re so much better nobody talks about, (Naadir) Tharpe. I like the way he runs the team, the way he competes.”
Trent Johnson, TCU head basketball coach, after Kansas routed his Horn Frogs in Fort Worth, KUSports.com
GH: Tharpe continues to amaze me in that he is forcing me (and many KU fans) to respect his game. Bill Self called him the most important player on the team going into conference play. It comes as no surprise that Self was right.

“In my shallow opinion, they probably have six pros.”
Trent Johnson, on Kansas’ talented lineup, KUSports.com

“Creighton had a record 18,859 fans for Georgetown game. Lots of power schools would love that. Great home court, fans. Hidden gem for years.”
Andy Katz, @ESPNAndyKatz, Twitter

“37K watched Nebraska’s 3 D1 teams play this weekend. Trying to find a name for Nebraska’s version of Tobacco Road on the show this AM.”
Gary Sharp, @GarySharp1620, Omaha sports talk host, Twitter
GH: I have mentioned Nebraska’s love for hoops in the past but many of my Kansas City neighbors still mistake that oddly-shaped state to the north as a basketball wasteland. Football will always be first but those folks in Nebraska are absolute sports junkies. I am considered normal up there.

“This was the toughest game I’ve ever had to play. Tougher than any championship game, tougher than any Game 7.”
Paul Pierce, on his return to Boston in a Brooklyn Nets uniform, YahooSports.com

“Within the (Celtics) organization, Pierce’s generosity was legendary. He fought for the lowest of assistants and basketball staff to get playoff bonuses, and he used to give the team’s traveling party $1,000 each to spend on the annual trip to the Nike employee store outside of Portland. Inside and outside the organization, Pierce was generous with commitments of time and resources, relentlessly championing children’s causes and charities.”
Adrian Wojnarowski, columnist YahooSports.com
GH: Wojnarowski retold how Pierce had once paid for the funeral of the father of the Celtics video coordinator/advance scout. One of Kansas’ great ones. He deserves mention with Wilt and Danny.

“People always say players can be too loyal, but I don’t believe that. A city like Boston is worth it.”
Kevin Garnett, YahooSports.com

“Very impressed with the @celtics and their fans in how they treated (Kevin Garnett), (Paul) Pierce & Doc (Rivers) in their returns. Trust me, wouldn’t happen everywhere.”
Trenni Kusnierek, @trenni, on the former Celtics playing as Nets for the first time in Boston and Rivers’ return earlier as the coach of the Clippers, Twitter
GH: I have gotten a taste of that Boston pride the last three years running the marathon. It is a special place when it comes to heroes. And goats as well, right Billy Buckner?

and Twitter / @greghall24

About Greg Hall

Software guy who has been writing my Off The Couch column in KC newspapers, publications and websites since 1994. Has been bounced from some of the finest media establishments this side of State Line Road. Dad first and everything else second...and there are a lot of everything elses.

60 Responses to OTC: ESPN Makes Mizzou Look Lost, Confused & Negligent In Rape/Suicide Story

  1. Jim says:

    Do I think that MU is “responsible” for this young woman’s tragic death in any way, shape or form? No, I don’t. Clearly, she was a troubled woman long before reaching the campus in CoMo. But, I still think there were serious errors/lapses in the way MU responded (or didn’t respond) to the entire thing. Even if this didn’t come to the administrations attention until after the fact, it appears they were none too aggressive in trying to at least look into it. Strictly for the fact that MU had dealt with TWO high-profile incidents of sexual misconduct from a couple star athletes on both the basketball and football programs. (Washington and Dixon). One would think it would behoove the University to make a real effort to at least track down any of the parties involved and ask a few questions. On the surface, it certainly appears they just wanted the entire thing to go away.

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