Butch Jones Comments on Title IX Lawsuit: No Culture Problem at UTBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones does not think the school fosters a "hostile sexual" environment that has been harmful to women.
During a brief media session last weekend, Jones spoke about the Title IX lawsuit a group of women filed against UT that referenced sexual assault complaints against some of Jones' former football players, according to The Associated Press. He declined to discuss the specifics of the lawsuit.
"We've worked very hard to build our culture," he told reporters. "We'll continue to defend it, but we're very proud of what we have here."
The Tennessean reported earlier this month that the lawsuit mentioned sexual assault complaints against former UT football players A.J. Johnson, Michael Williams, and Riyahd Jones, as well as a complaint against an unnamed current player. The complainants also referenced a sexual assault claim against a UT basketball player who transferred shortly after being accused. Johnson and Williams are both awaiting trial for the rape complaints against them.
Also in the lawsuit is a 20-year-old complaint against Peyton Manning that was allegedly kept quiet, which seems to suggest the school's alleged culture problem stretches back to at least the 1990s. The group of women accused UT of favoring male student-athletes in investigations for sexual and domestic crimes.
Earlier this month, Jones suspended defensive tackle Alexis Johnson following his arrest for domestic violence. A transfer from a junior college, Johnson had yet to play in a game for Jones and awaits arraignment on March 1.
Just a day before Johnson's arrest, UT offensive lineman Mackenzie Crowder was caught texting sexually lewd photos to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl in a child sex sting. Crowder, who just wrapped up his senior season, admitted to sending the photos and that he thought he was communicating with a minor.
Whereas Crowder was no longer a UT football player at the time of his arrest, Jones swiftly suspended Johnson and will seemingly let the legal case play out before making a decision. The UT football team's Academic Progress Rate has also shown promising improvements since Jones took over.
"The people that know us, they know our football program, they understand what's going on here with all the positivity," Jones said in his recent address. "They understand that. We just have to continue to work and grow and get better and let it galvanize us and bring us closer as a football team and a football program. People who understand what we're all about, they understand we have a good culture in place."