Big news broke late on Tuesday night as word spread of a lawsuit that Maryland guard Dez Wells filed against his old school, Xavier, as a result of his expulsion stemming from a sexual assault allegation.
The NCAA ruled that Wells was allowed to be eligible at Maryland immediately despite the fact that he was expelled by Xavier, which is why he was able to play this season. Part of the reason was that everyone involved with the legal handling of the allegation passed on filing charges against Wells, with a local prosecutor going as far as ripping Xavier in the media.
That matters because this year there is another player with sexual assault allegations hanging over his head while looking to get a waiver from the NCAA to be ruled eligible immediately.
Michael Dixon was initially suspended by Missouri following a sexual assault allegation prior to the start of last season. He sat out games for the first couple of weeks before news leaked of a second alleged sexual assault from two years earlier. That was enough to get Dixon booted from the team, but, like Wells, it wasn’t enough to warrant being charged and, according to reports at the time, Dixon wasn’t even questioned by the district attorney.
Beyond the fact that there are two separate allegations (I’m not trivializing the importance of that, but facts are facts, and Dixon was never charged), Dixon’s situation doesn’t look all that different from Wells’.
That’s why Memphis accepted Dixon’s commitment this summer, and it’s why the school is pushing for an NCAA waiver to get him eligible immediately.
And the Tigers need a waiver if they ever want to see Dixon suit up for them. Dixon has played three seasons, which means that after sitting out last year, the 2013-2014 season will be the fifth and final year he can play; NCAA athletes have five years to use four seasons of eligibility. Dixon didn’t play last season, but he also didn’t spend last year sitting out at Memphis and working towards his degree, one of the requirements for transfers doing their mandatory one year in residency.
The NCAA, like many of the rest of us, essentially determined that Wells was railroaded by Xavier despite being innocent. This lawsuit only reinforces that the NCAA was, in all likelihood, correct in that assumption.
But will they be willing to provide the same benefit of the doubt to a player with two accusations to his name?
The precedence is there, but ironically enough, it may not be the best case to compare Dixon to.
That would be Jesse Morgan.
Morgan tore his ACL early last season while playing for UMass and was kicked out of school after the injury but prior to the spring semester. It wasn’t reported in the media and he didn’t transfer immediately as he worked through the school’s appeal process. This summer, Morgan announced a transfer to Temple, applying for a waiver from the NCAA to allow him to be eligible immediately; he’s used three seasons of eligibility in four years, and he didn’t spend last semester sitting out or working towards a degree. Sounds like Dixon, right?
Well, the NCAA denied Morgan’s waiver last month, which means his career playing in the NCAA is over.
So precedence is there on both sides.
And while Dixon’s case has been compared to Wells’ given the fact that both involved sexual assault allegations that never made it to court, the circumstances surrounding Morgan’s eligibility is much more similar to Dixon.
Given the result, that’s not a good thing for Dixon.