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Utah State football coach Blake Anderson apologized on Friday after he was caught on a recording telling his players earlier this year that it “has never been more glamorized to be the victim” of sexual assault.
The university launched an investigation into the comments on Thursday, which surfaced after a recording published by the Salt Lake Tribune and mentioned in a Title IX lawsuit filed against the school by a student.
“In the course of that conversation, I used a phrase regarding victims of wrongdoing to magnify that message to our team, but after reading my comments in the transcript that was released, I realize my choice of words was hurtful,” Anderson said in a statement through the school. “I regret the words I used, and I apologize to anyone who has bravely come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. We have to do everything we can to encourage and protect anybody who has been the victim of a wrong, or whose personal rights have been violated. Anyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this. Giving victims a safe platform to address wrongs they’ve suffered is always the right thing to do, and something I’ll always stand for.”
Utah State coach told players it’s ‘glamorized’ to be a victim
Anderson’s comments came from a team meeting during fall camp. According to the Tribune, Anderson warned players that they are “way more at risk” of being accused of sexual assault because they are athletes, and said that being a victim of sexual assault has “never been more talked about in the news [than] right now.”
“And so you don’t need to put yourself in a position that you can create a victim,” he said, via the Tribune. “And it doesn’t take a whole lot. So it scares the s*** out of me.”
After telling his players to be “really, really smart,” he told them that it “has never been more glamorized to be a victim.”
Utah State University police chief Earl Morris warned players at that meeting that they should beware having sex with women who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, too, as he believes they’ll tell their bishop that it was not consensual.
“And if you’re not used to a Mormon community, folks, I’m here to tell you, the Latter-day Saints community … young ladies, they may have sex with you, but then they're going to go talk to their minister, their bishop, priest, whatever you want to call it,” Morris told the team, via The Salt Lake Tribune.
Morris was placed on administrative leave, and then resigned on Thursday.
The comments came after student Kaytriauna Flint filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school alleging that it systemically protects football players from sexual assault claims.
Flint said in the lawsuit that she was raped by a football player in 2019, and saw a doctor the following day. An initial investigation found that it was “more likely than not” that she was raped by the football player, but that investigation was then dismissed last month.
A three-year investigation by the Department of Justice said that the school mishandled or failed to investigate sexual assault cases on campus, and that of the more than 200 reports it received from 2013-18, less than 25 went through proper Title IX procedures.
Anderson is wrapping up his first season at Utah State, and is set to take on Oregon State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl on Saturday.