March Madness is known for fierce bracket competitions and bringing out the bandwagon fan in all of us, not for highlighting sexual assault scandals.
In a bumpy start to Yale’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 54 years, senior captain Jack Montague was expelled from the university after he was found to have violated the sexual misconduct policy.
Many of Montague’s former teammates have vocally supported him.
The Washington Post quoted teammate Justin Sears as saying, “He’s our brother, he’s all of our brothers, and we miss him.”
While the veracity of the sexual assault allegations against Montague are yet to be proven, the Editorial Board is concerned the only reason Montague is getting support is because of his basketball star status at Yale.
The allegations against Montague stem from a series of four sexual encounters between Montague and a female Yale student in October 2014.
The woman has said the fourth encounter was not consensual. Montague claims she gave consent.
The female student reported the assault to the Title IX coordinator in November 2015, which was then handed off to the University Committee on Sexual Misconduct.
On February 10, it was concluded that Montague should be expelled.
Montague appealed his expulsion through the sexual misconduct committee, but the decision was upheld by the dean and provost of Yale.
Although Montague has been expelled, he is being portrayed in a far brighter light than he might have been if he wasn’t an athlete, especially by his teammates,.
Montague’s teammates wore T-shirts with “Gucci,” Montague’s team nickname, on them before Yale’s home game against Harvard on Feb. 26 . Yale fans at the home game also chanted the nickname during the game, the Yale Daily News reported.
There is a rift between student athletes and other students on many college campuses around the country.
Student athletes tend to maintain a high profile on campus due to athletic success, especially during a tournament season such as March Madness.
That being said, success usually turns sour for people and teams that are surrounded by a sexual assault scandal. Although there is backlash against the basketball team on the Yale campus, the players and coaches are largely focusing on winning in the tournament.
After Montague’s lawyer made a statement about the allegations, Yale Head Coach James Jones said,
“This is the first time we’ve made the tournament since 1962. So that’s a great story. And I’d like to tell that one going forward.”
While it’s natural for teammates to support a former player and for coaches to focus on the team, we think Montague’s supporters are getting more of a voice than his critics.
In a situation like this, it’s hard for the Editorial Board to overlook his student athlete status as a reason for his barrage of support.