Happy International Women’s Day!
Just days after Art Briles stepped down from his extremely short-lived appointment as Grambling State’s offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson has promoted yet another coach with Title IX issues.
John Simon, originally hired on as a wide receivers coach, comes to Grambling State from Memphis, where he was placed on administrative leave in February 2021 after a sexual misconduct complaint was filed against him. He parted ways with Memphis just weeks later, denying all allegations, and the Title IX complaint was dropped as he was no longer associated with the school.
Simon was specifically accused of inaproppriate text messages and in-person sexual advances. The complaint was filed by Memphis’ former director of football operations on behalf of an unidentified individual. A second complaint from a different individual accusing Simon of sexual harassment was filed a few days later.
Per the Monroe News Star, head coach Hue Jackson expressed his total confidence in Simon’s promotion last week.
“I trust John wholeheartedly...and looking forward to just moving things forward, and I think our staff has done a great job. We don’t flinch when things happen, we just kind of move on, circle the wagon and keep on moving.”
At first glance, that’s definitely not the kind of rhetoric you want to see when the questions at stake in both these hires revolve around sexual assault allegations — “moving on” and “circling the wagons” when “things happen” don’t exactly instill confidence in questions about women’s safety on campus with the presence of Briles or Simon. Jackson essentially dismissed any acknowledgment of either coach’s previous wrongdoings.
This wasn’t the first time Jackson had attempted to brush past the allegations, writing in an open letter that the Briles hire was a “testament” to “forgiveness” and “redemption,” and closing with the bold statement that “we will continue to support Coach Briles and all victims of assault,” implying that the two aforementioned parties would somehow deserve the same level of support and defense.
Jackson somehow sank from hiring a coach who covered up sexual misconduct to one who actually perpetrated it, and with this second (and potentially worse) error, it’s clear that he needs to be removed as head coach at Grambling State. Among the thousands of coaches throughout the country, he really can’t find one without a questionable background? It almost feels like it’s on purpose at this point, and I’m unsure how the administration is allowing this to continue.
To allow people who have perpetrated or covered up sexual harrassment or abuse to remain in power is a giant middle finger to the women on Grambling State’s campus and faculty, and sends student athletes as young as 18 years old the message that it’s somehow acceptable to brush off or diminish sexual assault allegations. This is just an incredibly disappointing development, particularly when you consider that Jackson was prepared to go down swinging for Briles.
Simon will need to pass a University of Louisiana review board before his promotion is official.