Montana, one of Division I-FCS' most storied programs, has elected to fire both their football coach and athletic director (according to The Associated Press) as sexual assault investigations are mounting in Mizzoula.
While the school did not state that the firings were a direct result of the sexual assault investigations, one has to wonder how large of a role that the incidents played. Most recently, in early March, quarterback Jordan Johnson was accused of sexual assault by a female student, although no formal charges have been brought against Johnson.
Robin Pflugrad, the head coach of the Grizzlies, was entering his third season with the FCS playoff regular prior to being relieved of his duties today. Jim O'Day, the athletic director, was in his seventh year with the school.
The Jordan Johnson incident marks the most recent of several sexual assault investigations dating back to February 2011. In February of last year, a woman came forward and reported an incident. In December of 2011, a possible date-rape incident was reported involving as many as three Grizzlies football players. That same month, Beau Donaldson admitted to sexually assaulting a female during a monitored phone call and has been charged with rape.
Allegations like these are troubling in their own right. Female students should be safe to walk the campus and go out and have a good time without the worry of being possible rape victims. Sexual assault, especially on college campuses, is one of the most under-reported crimes. As an institution, the onus is on Montana to step up and make sure that all of their students, male and female, have a save university atmosphere. This statement from a former Montana state Supreme Court justice brought in to aid in the investigation speaks volumes:
There are many programs on campus addressing sexual assault issues, including recent campus communications and posters throughout campus. One female student athlete told me that she felt there are sufficient warnings of date rape and alcohol misuse on campus.
With an issue as big as this on campus, safety should be job one.