Two employees of Creighton University’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Center are “under review” and could potentially be disciplined after writing an op-ed in the student paper criticizing the conduct of basketball coach Greg McDermott. McDermott recently posted a photo of himself handing out a ring to former guard Maurice Watson (apparently first-round losses to Rhode Island deserve jewelry?) which prompted Lauren Ward and Meredith Lierk to write in the Creightonian and point out that honoring Watson—who was expelled from the school and suspended from the team after being accused of raping a fellow student earlier this year—was “a selfish and reckless act” that essentially ignored the sexual assault Watson was accused of.
The article has been scrubbed from the Creightonian’s archives, though in the post, they call on McDermott and athletic director Bruce Rasmussen to “go above and beyond compliance with NCAA sexual assault prevention” by deleting the picture and proving that no Creighton money was spent on the ring. It’s not a ludicrous demand, and, given the steps taken by the team and school to punish Watson, it’s plenty reasonable to call bullshit on rewarding Watson.
An anonymous 19-year-old student said that this February, Watson penned her into the bathroom of her residence, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him before raping her. Prosecutors presented evidence from a medical examiner that showed signs of nonconsensual sex. However, the first-degree sexual assault charges were dropped and Watson plead no-contest to misdemeanor assault charges (the playbook for how her credibility was called into question will not surprise anyone familiar with these sorts of cases.) Still, Watson’s Creighton career ended with him suspended from the team.
Somehow, pointing this out has put Ward and Lierk into hot water. Creighton spokesman Jim Berscheidt told the Omaha World-Herald that Ward and Lierk would have their conduct reviewed:
Berscheidt said that the letter doesn’t represent the views of Creighton’s administration and that the conduct of the employees is under scrutiny. He declined to say whether they might be disciplined and called it a personnel matter.
Berscheidt made a bunch of noise about how the university treats sexual assault Very Seriously and also said the two women should have taken their concerns directly to McDermott and Rasmussen, in private, where one imagines they would be easier to ignore. Setting aside the grossness of telling two directors of a sexual violence prevention center to pipe down about sexual violence, McDermott’s praise of Watson was public, so why should Ward and Lierk have to make their concerns known in private? If Creighton truly wants to show “its commitment to strengthening programs on sexual and relationship misconduct,” perhaps they could start by listening to the women in charge of those very same programs on sexual and relationship misconduct instead of disciplining them for speaking out.