Utah State University head football coach Blake Anderson acknowledged in a statement Friday that he had told his players that “it has never been more glamorous to be the victim” of a sexual assault. and apologized for saying it.
“I regret the words I used and apologize to anyone who has courageously brought forward accusations of wrongdoing,” Anderson said in a comment posted by the school.
Reading: Utah state football coach comments
On Thursday, Utah State University said it was investigating comments that attorneys attributed to Anderson. The coach’s comments are in a second recording obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune and are cited as part of a lawsuit filed this week by student Kaytriauna Flint.
The lawsuit also referred to a recording in which Usu Police Chief Earl Morris told players in a separate meeting to be careful not to have sex with Latter-day Saint women because they might later “repent” and denounce it as non-consensual. Usu put Morris on administrative leave, saying his police chief “must have the trust of the campus,” and then resigned Thursday.
After that, some specifically pointed to Anderson’s comment that it’s glamorous to be a victim of sexual assault and asked that the school look into that as well. the aggies head to a national bowl game against oregon state this weekend.
usu said in a new statement Friday that the coach’s comments came in August, a day after the boss spoke with the team. The school also noted that the meetings occurred a month after members of the football team participated in sexual misconduct prevention training required by Title IX.
the usu title ix office coordinator was at the meeting where the coach also spoke, as was the outreach and prevention coordinator for the school’s sexual violence and assault information office, or saavi.
Those two usu employees are tasked with being advocates for victims of sexual assault. amanda derito, a spokesperson for usu, later clarified that both left before the coach’s comments.
The school in its statement on Friday added: “The university reiterates that students who experience sexual misconduct should be able to trust usu to feel comfortable coming forward, whether to seek help or report. …
“usu will work diligently to address these issues in our campus community and will provide further information on future steps,” the statement continued.
In the 40-minute recording of the meeting, Anderson goes on to warn the team that players are “much more at risk” of being charged with assault than others because they are athletes and are a “target of some.” ”
In response to one of the players’ questions about “false reports,” he says there’s “never been so much in the news right now” about being assaulted.
“therefore, you don’t need to put yourself in a position where you can create a victim,” he said. “And it doesn’t take much. so it scares the hell out of me.”
tells players to be “very, very smart” in relationships to “stay out of trouble.” and that’s when he makes the “glamorized” comment.
derito had said Thursday in response to questions from the grandstand about the coach that the school furloughing the chief was a priority because of his position to address the concerns of all students. He said Usu was concerned about how Morris’s comment would damage “trust” in the police department.
the state of utah originally said Tuesday, when the recordings were first released, that the statements “are not consistent with university trainings.”
attempts to contact anderson directly were unsuccessful. USU athletic director John Hartwell did not respond to a request for comment.
anderson, who was hired by usu in 2020 after previously leading the team at arkansas state, has an annual salary of $455,000, according to public records.
In his statement of apology on Friday, the coach said he appreciated “having the opportunity to address comments I made during a conversation with our team during our fall camp.” His message, he said, was to encourage players to do the right thing.
“In the course of that conversation,” he added, “I used a phrase about victims of wrongdoing to magnify that message to our team, but after reading my comments on the transcript that was posted, I realize the choice of words. It was painful.”
continued: “We need to do everything we can to encourage and protect anyone who has been wronged or whose personal rights have been violated. Anyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this. Providing victims with a safe platform to address the wrongs they have suffered is always the right thing to do and something I will always stand for.”
On the recording, the coach had mentioned that the team has “a very, very close to zero tolerance policy here” for sexual assault.
“So if you do something wrong, you deserve everything that comes,” he said. “But if he didn’t, he deserves all the protection the law provides, and we’ll do everything we can to help him.”
He also said that if a player comes to his office to talk about assaulting someone, he is obligated to report it. “Even if I don’t want to call, I have to. so you need to understand sensitive space,” he added.
susan chasson, a sexual assault examiner who has worked in utah for 30 years, said thursday she was concerned about the coach’s comments about victims.
“As a health care provider, I know the lifelong impact of sexual assault on women’s health, and I also know that most women never come forward,” she said. “When there are comments like this, what incentive would a woman have to come forward?”
added: “it just sets up an environment where women won’t be believed.”
The process of reporting an assault is already very challenging, Chasson said, as survivors must repeatedly recount what happened and undergo screening.
in 2020, usa. uu. The Justice Department detailed a pattern of victim mistreatment in USU, saying allegations against high school football players and fraternity members received “minimal investigation” when an allegation was filed.
chasson believes usu has started work to correct attitudes there, but said comments to soccer players are a setback and need to be addressed from the top.
and he wants the title ix office to be there to see why that kind of attitude from a trainer is problematic.
“It should also start with the men, but obviously the type of education that was given to soccer players is not appropriate,” he said. “The reality is that we are never going to prosecute every sexual assault. but we can certainly prevent a lot of harm to women if we treat them differently [than we do now].”
The Title IX Coordinator told the players in the recorded meeting that most of the cases she sees involve students not understanding consent. the two employees attended to explain the school’s process when making a report.
“Our office is the investigative agency that investigates complaints,” the title IX coordinator said, according to the recording. “We also provide support measures and help people who have experienced sexual misconduct. And I want to emphasize first of all that I’ve seen both sides of that with our football team.”
In response to a question from a player about continuing to play football after an accusation, he also noted that “unless there is a really greater immediate threat, the person will continue to play until the process is complete, which It’s been about four months.” He said he wants players to be successful and “have amazing careers.”
saavi’s coordinator talked about how the process in her office is confidential for people to get help.
Recordings emerged as flint, who reported she had been sexually assaulted by a football player in 2019, alleged in court documents that the university continues to protect its football team and neglects women who report assaults by of the members.
His claims about the player come after football linebacker Usu Torrey Green was convicted in 2019, after graduation, of sexually assaulting six women while a student at Logan High School.
: Tribune reporter jessica miller contributed to this story.
Editor’s Note: If you need to report or discuss a sexual assault, you can call the Rape & sexual assault crisis line at 888-421-1100.