Mizzou still buzzing about Dixon departure
Posted at: 12/07/2012 3:05 PM
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
(AP) COLUMBIA, Mo. - Michael Dixon’s abrupt departure from the Missouri men’s basketball team hasn’t quieted the campus conversation about his exit.
The senior guard announced his intent to transfer on Nov. 29 after two sexual assault claims became public. Dixon had been benched all season by No. 12 Missouri (7-1) and coach Frank Haith for unspecified team rule violations. He was not charged in either case.
In an interview with The Associated Press, University of Missouri Board of Curators chairman David Bradley suggested the school may need to take a closer look at its student disciplinary process. Dixon reportedly appeared before a campus student conduct board whose members include students and professors.
"I don’t think it would hurt to relook at the process we go through," Bradley said at a curators’ meeting in St. Louis. "I’m not saying the process is wrong, but there are a lot of people who had questions about it, and a lot of people who were upset about the Dixon situation."
Absent from the meeting due to illness was Chancellor Brady Deaton, who had Dixon not decided to leave on his own would have been able to veto, uphold or revise the student conduct committee’s confidential decision. But university President Tim Wolfe, who oversees the system’s four campuses, defended the integrity of the disciplinary process.
"We have a process that involves the student conduct committee that has representatives from the various constituency groups and has been successful in looking into these situations and making decisions," Wolfe said Friday. "That process was used effectively in this particular situation."
Curator Wayne Goode, a former Missouri legislator who will succeed Bradley as the governing board’s chairman, said the university had to balance the privacy of both Dixon and his accusers.
"We were advised by our (legal) counsel that we had to be careful with regard to those privacy issues, and I think we were," he said.
With no charges against him, Dixon received a lot of support amid the allegations. After he announced he would transfer, some students remained troubled by the backlash faced by women who allege sexual assault.
"Despite the incredible resources meant to educate on this issue, the sad truth is that there is still a culture of victim blaming that permeates MU and countless other college communities across the nation," student government president Xavier Billingsley wrote Wednesday in an open letter to the campus community titled "For A Safer Mizzou."
"Rape is rape _ not only when a sexual advance is forcible, but any time one party says `no,’" Billinsgley continued. "There have been no convictions borne out of the accusations discussed this past week, but to think that any student would want to shut out serious concerns about whether an awful crime was committed for the sake of athletics is incredibly disappointing. This shows that even though we have made great strides in dealing with sexual violence and violation, we still have a long way to go. "
Dixon was suspended for two games in December 2010 for violating unspecified team rules under former Missouri coach Mike Anderson, who is now at Arkansas.
A 25-year-old Missouri graduate and former athletics department employee told the AP that Dixon forcibly had sex with her in January 2010 during his freshman year. The woman reported the alleged assault to campus police and was examined for signs of sexual assault at a hospital, but said she declined to press charges.
The campus police report was publicly leaked to reporters last week, about the same time a second allegation was being aired publicly. In that case, a current female student accused Dixon of sexual assault, disclosing the allegation in a Twitter exchange with a former Missouri player. She also filed a city police report in August, but prosecutors decided on Nov. 16 to not file charges.
Alan Scher Zagier can be reached at http://twitter.com/azagier
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)