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Vanderbilt's silence is deafening

6:56 AM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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Written by David Climer, The Tennessean

Another day and not a peep out of Vanderbilt.

Except for a couple of statements delivered via the university website, the leadership at Vanderbilt has chosen to clam up about the alleged incident on campus.

The Board of Trust isn't talking.

The chancellor isn't talking.

The athletics director isn't talking.

The football coach isn't talking.

Silence is black and golden.

But when you think about it, what could they really say? What's the use of calling a press conference to state the obvious and decline to answer questions about the matter because the police investigation is ongoing?

"The university deeply regrets the alleged incident ..."

Of course the university deeply regrets the alleged incident. It has brought the kind of attention to Vanderbilt that it seldom receives. Those in fundraising and development are working overtime to put out fires and assure contributors that the matter is being handled properly.

"Vanderbilt is cooperating with the authorities ..."

Vanderbilt better be cooperating with the authorities. The worst thing that can happen in a case such as this is for anyone on campus not to be forthcoming with information that leads to proper resolution of the case.

"The names of the four players that were first suspended and then dismissed from the football program are ..."

This is a tough one. On Saturday, Vanderbilt announced four players were dismissed for "violation of team rules" but did not release the names of the players. That's highly unusual. Under normal circumstances, the player or players are identified.

But these are not normal circumstances. Last week, a police spokesman confirmed the suspension of the players was related to the investigation by sex crimes detectives. If Vanderbilt names the players it has kicked off the team, it is effectively identifying those who are being investigated for a possible sex crime on campus.

"We are anxious for the matter to be resolved so we can put it behind us and move forward."

Sure, everyone wants to move forward. But you can't move forward until the investigation is complete and a decision is made on whether charges will be filed. And that can take awhile.

In sum, it wouldn't be much of a press conference, would it?

From the looks of things, this is going to take awhile. With the investigation under way and with evidence at the TBI crime lab, this matter likely is a long way from being resolved. And that brings up some interesting points.

If Vanderbilt maintains its current stance and does not identify the players who were dismissed from the team, all eyes will shift to SEC Media Days in two weeks. Vanderbilt usually is an afterthought at these things. Because of what happened last week, the Commodores will be in the crosshairs of the regional and national media.

It's common for SEC teams to unveil their media guides there, which would make the Commodores media guide the hottest commodity in the conference for one day. The roster quickly would be examined to see what four players have been purged from the list.

Likewise, James Franklin will have a hard time focusing attention on the upcoming season. While he likely will preface his comments with a statement that he cannot or will not discuss anything dealing with the incident, the questions will come nonetheless. Who cares about Zac Stacy's replacement at running back when there was an alleged sexual assault involving football players?

It is a story that is not going away.

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