Yale's men's basketball team is making news for the first time in a long time. The Ivy League school just ended a 54-year NCAA tournament drought -- and the team's captain, Jack Montague, was just expelled after a school-led investigation into a sexual-misconduct allegation. The latter is leading headlines after Montague's attorney released a statement attempting to undermine Yale's decision and promising a lawsuit.
In the statement, his attorney says the decision to expel Montague, which was based on the undisputed facts of the case, was "wrong, unfairly determined, arbitrary and excessive by any rational measure," particularly three months before Montague was scheduled to earn a degree.
The lawyer also takes several shots at how the university handled the case. But overall, he's just posturing.
Despite his attorney's claims, it's hard to believe Montague was a "whipping boy" for Yale. The lawyer suggests his dismissal was a reaction to a damning sexual assault survey conducted by the Association of American Universities last year. But in 2014 to 2015 -- before Montague was expelled -- Yale had expelled at least one other student for sexual assault, according to a university report. The school also said it issued lengthy suspensions in several other instances of sexual misconduct.
In Montague's case, Yale found that he violated the school's sexual-misconduct policy by a "preponderance of the evidence." That means Yale found the accuser's version of the events more likely to be true than Montague's. This is the correct standard that the law requires schools use in Title IX cases when reviewing the facts.
This wasn't a criminal trial in which the accuser had to prove her version of the events beyond a reasonable doubt. It was an academic hearing. The university weighed the evidence using the legally required standard for handling Title IX complaints.
Also, Montague's attorney tries to suggest something is amiss because a Title IX official, rather than the accuser, filed the complaint against Montague. There is nothing suspicious here. Title IX officials often file complaints on behalf of accusers. It's part of their job. And federal law requires that Yale have a Title IX official on campus to perform that job.
Yale's manual for handling sexual-misconduct complaints says that a Title IX coordinator "may bring a complaint when there is evidence that the University's policies on sexual misconduct have been violated and the Coordinator's intervention is needed to ensure that the matter reaches the" University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. So it isn't shocking that the Title IX coordinator filed the complaint.
In fact, the majority of sexual assault complaints at Yale are filed by the Title IX coordinator on accusers' behalf. According to Yale's most recent sexual-misconduct report, its Title IX coordinator filed eight of the 13 sexual assault complaints made from July 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014. The fact that the Title IX coordinator filed the complaint against Montague on the accuser's behalf isn't an issue to be flagged but rather an indication that Yale is following its procedures.
The statement issued by Montague's attorney is padded with legalese as opposed to substance. It merely confirms that Yale did what it was supposed to do: follow the procedures it outlined for handling sexual-misconduct complaints.
Adrienne Lawrence has a B.S. and an M.A. in criminal justice, as well as a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School. She completed the M.A. specialized journalism program at USC Annenberg in 2015 focusing on multimedia sports journalism. She practiced law from 2008 to 2015 before joining ESPN in August 2015.