The University of Miami reacted swiftly Tuesday after sexual battery charges were brought against two of its football players, immediately dismissing both from the Hurricanes team and suspending them as students.
JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa, both 20-year-old sophomore linebackers, are accused of getting a 17-year-old girl drunk the night of July 5 and then repeatedly raping her at an on-campus residential hall. Each is charged with sexual battery on a physically helpless victim, and Figueroa is also charged with possessing a stolen or forged driver’s license.
Court records did not list an attorney for either man. But University President Donna Shalala and Blake James, the school’s athletic director, each issued statements condemning sexual assault. Shalala said she had spoken with the victim, a Miami student who was not identified.
“We have zero tolerance for sexual assault and gender-based violence,” Shalala said. “There is no confusion about our responsibility as a university: we will fully and compassionately support the victim of sexual assault.”
The statement from James said: “Any allegation of sexual assault is extremely serious, and the university will not tolerate conduct that threatens the sanctity and safety of our students and our campus.”
Tuesday’s strong reaction by University of Miami officials comes as the U.S. Education Department conducts a civil rights probe into whether Florida State adequately investigated sexual assault allegations last year against one of its football players, quarterback Jameis Winston. The Florida State investigation resulted in no criminal charges against Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy while leading the Seminoles to the national championship.
Blue and Figueroa were jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail each and, if released, they will be banned from the Miami campus. The Coral Gables police report said the victim first reported the assault to university police, which turned to the Coral Gables department to investigate.
The two turned themselves in Tuesday and admitted “buying and administering several alcohol beverages” for the victim and then performing sex acts without her consent, the police report says.
Blue, a native of Boca Raton, registered one tackle in the two games in which he played last year. Figueroa, from Stafford, Va., was listed as a possible starter on the Hurricanes’ depth chart and made 17 tackles in nine games last year.