Missouri leaders deny playing role in Washington’s ouster

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two members of the University of Missouri’ s governing board said Tuesday they did not order football coach Gary Pinkel to dismiss a star running back after the player’s 2010 arrest on sexual assault charges, contradicting an account by the player’s mother in a new book that critically examines major college football.

Derrick Washington was Missouri’s leading rusher as a sophomore and junior until he was kicked off the team days before the start of his senior season after the accusations by a tutor. He was convicted in 2011 of deviate sexual assault and served four months of a five-year prison sentence.

Washington completed his college football career in 2012 at Division II Tuskegee in Alabama. After his dismissal by Pinkel, Washington also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault against an ex-girlfriend but did not have to serve additional time.

Washington’s mother told the authors of “The System,” a book released Tuesday, that Pinkel wanted to use a redshirt to keep her son on the team until after his trial but was overruled by Missouri’s Board of Curators, who “called him in and told him what they were going to do.”

Board chairman Wayne Goode, who spent 43 years in the Missouri Legislature, and curator David Bradley, chief executive officer of a St. Joseph-based media company, told the Associated Press they never met with Pinkel nor discussed Washington’s status on their own.

“I know of no contacts, nor can I remember any discussion along that line among curators or individually,” Goode said.

Said Bradley: “I don’t remember any meeting with Gary Pinkel or recall any conversations about Derrick Washington. That would be, in my mind, micromanaging. Our job is to set policy.”

The book by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian uses the Washington incident as the basis for a chapter about inadequate oversight of athletics tutors, describing a sexually charged atmosphere in Missouri’s Total Person Program.

Pinkel declined to discuss the book at his weekly meeting with reporters Monday, but the university responded in a written statement posted online last week after obtaining an advance copy of the book.

Missouri said the authors did not contact school officials for comment, though Benedict has said his emails to Pinkel and a school spokesman went unanswered. The statement calls the example cited an isolated one that “is not reflective of the culture of (an) academic program” that consists of 150 tutors working with more than 500 athletes.

The school’s statement also includes a link to a voluntary April 2011 review of Missouri’s academic support program for athletes conducted by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics. The outside review included a recommendation Missouri add a second professional staff member to help oversee a tutoring program where “day-to-day supervision” was handled by a graduate student assistant. Missouri subsequently hired another non-student for that position.

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