Once you can get past the name of the people involved and the clickbait headlines that have flooded the interwebs over the course of the last 24 hours, the truth of what happened with Zavier Simpson is this: A college kid let a friend in his dorm borrow his car, and that friend, while driving at 3 a.m., got into a minor accident hitting a utility pole.
Assuming that said driver was not drunk — and according to all the relevant police reports that have been obtained by the likes of MLive.com and The Athletic, it does not appear that Simpson was drunk at the wheel — this is really not a big deal.
I think every sane and rational human being, even those in East Lansing and Columbus, realizes that.
But Michigan, and Simpson himself, made this a thing because of the way that they handled the situation.
Because of that annoying little detail that Simpson was driving a car that is owned by the family of his Athletic Director, Warde Manuel.
According to The Athletic, the vehicle in question is an eight-year old Toyota Rav-4 that is registered to Warde’s wife, Chrislan, and used by their son, Evan, a student manager on the basketball team that lives in the same dorm as Simpson — college kid borrowing a friend’s car. The suspension, according to that same report, is directly tied to a team rule stipulating that players are not “out in the middle of the night.” The optics make this seem much worse than it actually is.
That’s probably why Simpson initially told police officers that arrived to the scene of the accident that his name is Jeff Jackson Simpson; anyone with even a casual understanding of college athletics would know the ramifications of a star point guard driving the Athletic Director’s car. And it’s probably why Michigan, instead of being honest and forthright about why Simpson was suspended for a game last week, went all hush-hush on the matter, citing a violation of team rules as the reason that their leader would be watching a road game from home.
Now that the information is out there — and, since all of this was written down in a police report, it was always going to eventually get out there — Michigan is forced to try and explain away what happened. We went through this with Georgetown back in December: When there are court documents and police reports that are publicly available, trying to coverup why a player is suspended, is kicked off the team or is transferring at an odd time in the year is never going to work.
You’re always going to end up looking bad when you try to explain away something that comes to light than you will if you get ahead of it.
The coverup is always worse than the crime.