Southern Miss head football coach Jay Hopson firmly disagreed with his university’s decision this week not to hire disgraced former Baylor coach Art Briles, saying that Briles “deserves a second chance” and noting that he “committed no crime.” Thursday The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported a depressingly unsurprising trend in Hopson’s history as a college head coach: the courtship of Briles isn’t the first time Hopson has treated the consequences of sexual misconduct as a kind of market inefficiency for recruiting.
When Hopson was head coach at Alcorn State, prior to being hired at Southern Miss, he reportedly recruited a registered sex offender who’d been convicted of abusive sexual contact by a martial panel at Air Force Academy, after he was accused of raping a woman in his dorm room. Hopson also recruited a former Vanderbilt player who’d been accused and was eventually convicted of facilitating the rape of an unconscious student in a dorm room. The most recent of these involves a player Hopson recruited to Southern Miss just last month, mere weeks before his courtship of Briles fell apart:
Last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter, Hopson and his staff tried to add junior college transfer Charles West, who had previously been accused of raping two women at knifepoint at his home in separate incidents in 2015.
West, a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American last season, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, after his accusers reportedly declined to testify in a trial. Auerbach reports that West withheld this information from his superiors during recruiting, and that it was only when a member of the athletic department happened to read about West in a Dallas Morning News story that he was denied admission, despite having already signed a letter of intent. Briles therefore represents at least the third time that Hopson’s superiors have had to step in and counteract his decision to feed from this particularly scummy trough—the Vanderbilt player was dismissed from the Alcorn State team after just one game, with the school’s president describing the decision to recruit him in the first place as “an error in judgment.”
Auerbach’s full report is here, and includes more details about these cases, and is very much worth your attention.