San Diego State's athletic director and head football coach have spoken out about the school's decision not to investigate allegations three football players, including punter Matt Araiza, gang-raped a 17-year-old girl at a party in 2021.
Athletic director John David Wicker told reporters the university delayed looking into the matter at the request of the San Diego Police Department while it was conducting its own investigation.
Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke said in a prepared statement he couldn't provide specific details because the investigation is still ongoing:
"I want to reinforce that we have and continue to support the criminal investigation done by the San Diego Police Department and we also support the district attorney's review of the case. What was reported to have happened should never happen—ever. That shouldn't happen to anyone. And what has been important to us is that anyone who violates or violated the law or university policies, they be held accountable."
Colleen Shalby and Robert J. Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reported Friday that a woman filed a civil lawsuit accusing Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin "Pa'a" Ewalika of raping her at an off-campus Halloween party in October 2021. The woman was 17 at the time.
Araiza was released by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. He was a sixth-round pick by the team in the 2022 NFL draft. Leonard is a redshirt freshman on the San Diego State football team. Ewalika is no longer part of the Aztecs roster.
ESPN's Kyle Bonagura noted Wicker and Hoke read from prepared statements in the media room and didn't initially engage with follow-up questions when the floor opened up to reporters.
Both men left the room when reporters didn't ask about San Diego State's season opener, but Wicker eventually returned to answer some questions related to the case.
According to Bonagura, Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor and sexual assault prevention educator, was brought in by San Diego State to speak to the football team and other male athletes that Wicker said was prompted by "an incident that had been reported to us, that SDPD was investigating."
Tracy issued a statement on Twitter saying she was "told by an athletic staff member that there was an incident that had happened" but she wasn't given specifics even though "I obviously know it has to do with sexual assault."
Brenda Tracy @brendatracy24
Pls consider this my formal comment on the SDSU sexual assault case. Due to my visit w the football team & now involvement as part of the story, I will not be doing media interviews unless/until I know the victim approves. <br><br>This story is not & should not be about me. <br><br>Thank you <a href="https://t.co/byEwtJksUk">pic.twitter.com/byEwtJksUk</a>
Per the Los Angeles Times report, Araiza's name came up in connection with the rape allegation within days of the party from at least one student-athlete via anonymous reporting outlet to the school officials.
Hoke said he was "not aware" of the anonymous report.
Araiza's parents issued a statement to Brandon Stone of KUSI in San Diego in which they claimed their son was being "extorted, discriminated against, harassed and the subject of multiple and continuous threats of violence and death."
They also called the allegations "salacious rumors" and said every member of their family has "been canceled."
Araiza played four seasons at San Diego State from 2018-21. He won the Bills' starting punter job prior to being released amid the rape allegations in the civil lawsuit.