Recent reports paint the Louisiana State University (LSU) football program in a bad light. USA Today published a story on Nov. 16, detailing a toxic culture within the program and athletic department that brushed accusations of abuse, rape, and sexual misconduct under the rug. The horror stories extend to non-athletes abusing and assaulting women with little to no punishment as well, revealing the ignorance of a state university with over 25,000 enrolled students.
USA Today paints a damning picture of LSU’s football program and athletic department, claiming that at least seven officials knew that wide receiver Drake Davis was abusing his girlfriend. Instead of confronting Davis about the abuse or expelling him, LSU buried the information for months.
Derrius Guice, a former standout running back for the Tigers, also frequently appears in the report. Rape accusations began flooding in about Guice dating back to the spring of 2016. At the time, Guice was preparing for the summer leading up to his breakout sophomore season.
That summer, the running back shared a partially nude photo of a female student he took without permission with the football team. Another rape allegation against Guice surfaced in April 2017, months before the junior played 12 games for the Tigers. He was arrested and charged with three counts of assault and battery in a domestic violence case earlier this year, which led to the Washington Football Team releasing him immediately.
While the USA Today report highlights Davis and Guice in particular, it mentions numerous other offenders that received insufficient or no punishment for serious accusations. Including the two previously mentioned players, nine Tigers have been reported to the authorities for sexual misconduct or abuse during Ed Orgeron’s reign as head coach.
LSU repeatedly resisted USA Today’s attempts to gain access to police reports regarding player misconduct. The school and athletic department continue defending men accused of threatening the safety and well-being of female students. It’s developing into a cultural trend in Baton Rouge.
Of the nine accused football players, LSU only acknowledges disciplining two. The university decided to expel Davis, but it waited four months after his criminal conviction to do so. The other player, quarterback Peter Parrish, was suspended for one year after being accused of raping a woman earlier. Parrish transferred to the University of Memphis in August, side-stepping the punishment and continuing his collegiate career.
Four other athletes accused of heinous acts weren’t disciplined at all. Tae Provens, Jacob Phillips, and Zach Sheffer faced rape accusations, while Grant Delpit recorded a woman during sex without permission and shared the video. The Cleveland Browns drafted Delpit in the second-round of the 2020 NFL Draft and took Phillips in the third-round.
USA Today could not confirm with the school if defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Ray Parker, who were both accused of dating violence, faced discipline from the team or university.
Orgeron responded to USA Today’s findings with a prepared statement.
“We are committed to a culture of safety, equity and accountability for all students and staff. We provide education, training and resources to combat violence, sexual misconduct, and inequality. When we become aware of accusations, we have an obligation to immediately report every allegation to the University’s Title IX office so that appropriate due process can be implemented.”
LSU also produced a statement.
“We are unwavering in our commitment to respond promptly to any reports of misconduct, to investigate these reports in a manner that is fair and equitable, to support victims of sexual assault, and to protect the privacy of our students according to the law. Putting an end to sexual assault is an institutional priority, and we are constantly working to achieve that goal.”
If even half of the accusations reported by USA Today are true, then Orgeron’s and LSU’s statements ring hollow. The football team, athletic department, and university haven’t done everything in their power to protect victims of abuse, rape, and violence. Instead, they “either doubted the women’s stories, didn’t investigate, or didn’t call the police.”
The Tigers won the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship, defeating Clemson. A thirst for success on the field has led to internal corruption and failure at multiple levels in LSU’s football program and university. The officials who oversaw and ignored accusations of abuse and rape should not retain their positions, including Orgeron.