Oklahoma: Tough On Racism, Weak On Assault, Burglary
University of Oklahoma president David Boren’s immediate expulsion of students involved with a recently-leaked racist video stands in sharp contrast to the lighter treatment the school has given to football players found responsible for violent crimes. (RELATED: Oklahoma Frat Shut Down After Racist Video Leaks)
Just two days after a video leaked of Oklahoma students, mostly freshmen, singing a racist song on a bus, Boren took decisive action by summarily expelling two students he claims played a leading roll in the chant. The students, he said, had created a “hostile learning environment” for other students and had to be kicked out immediately, with no opportunity to reform. Boren has suggested that more expulsions could be on the way. (RELATED: OU Could Be Making A Huge Mistake With Its Expulsions)
“There is zero tolerance for this kind of threatening racist behavior at the University of Oklahoma,” Boren said.
However, while Boren might have zero tolerance for racist songs sung in private, Boren and OU have taken a very different approach to the privileged members of the school’s elite college football team, emphasizing the importance of second chances and allowing the team to welcome back players with a history of violence and even sexual assault. (RELATED: Oklahoma Frat Song Was Racist, But Was Still Free Speech)
One such player was Joe Mixon, a freshman and one of the top football prospects for the Sooners. Last July, Mixon was caught on video in an altercation with another OU student, 20-year-old junior Amelia Rae Molitor. During the altercation, Mixon punched Molitor so hard he broke four bones in her face and knocked her unconscious.
Last October, Mixon accepted a plea deal on a misdemeanor assault charge, and was punished with a year-long deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service and mandatory counseling. The video of his assault has never been released, but president Boren has seen it.
Despite his conviction, Mixon faced a comparatively light punishment compared to the massive crackdown on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon students. He was suspended from the team for the season, but faced no other repercussions, remaining on campus and continuing to attend classes like any other student.
In February, Mixon was allowed to rejoin the football team.
Boren, at the time, said that while Mixon’s behavior was abhorrent, it was important to grant second chances.
“The judicial outcome and the video speak for themselves,” Boren said. “The University is an educational institution, which always sets high standards that we hope will be upheld by our students. We hope that our students will all learn from those standards, but at the same time, we believe in second chances so that our students can learn and grow from life’s experiences.”
Boren’s mercy towards Mixon raises the question of whether he believes violence against women merits a second chance, but not racist words.
Mixon’s case is hardly the only one of the University promoting second chances for gifted athletes, even in the past year. Another recent case involving the Sooner football team is that of Dorial Green-Beckham, a wide receiver prospect who was hyped as a Randy Moss-caliber talent upon graduating from high school.
Green-Beckham originally attended the University of Missouri, but was kicked off the team after multiple drug arrests as well as an incident where he allegedly forced his way into a woman’s home, violently threatened her and then shoved another woman down the stairs. Green-Beckham likely would have faced assault and burglary charges, but police closed the case after the women involved said they did not want to press charges and became uncooperative.
Despite his extremely troubled history, Green-Beckham was accepted at OU, which subsequently pushed for Green-Beckham to be allowed to immediately play rather than missing a year as per NCAA rules regarding transfers.
In yet another case, a school investigation found that linebacker Frank Shannon had violated the school’s sexual misconduct policy after he reportedly attempted to have sex with an unwilling woman at his apartment. Far from being immediately expelled, Shannon was instead suspended for one year, a stern punishment but far below the one given for racism.
Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of cases of Sooners receiving almost no punishment at all for endangering the lives of others by driving under the influence. For instance, in 2013 defensive end Chuka Ndulue was suspended for just a single game after pleading no contest to a DUI charge and receiving a deferred sentence.
Update: An earlier version of this article misstated the position played by Frank Shannon. He is a linebacker, not a defensive end.
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