By Sarah Stubbs
With football season in full swing and basketball season right around the corner, the sexual assault investigation that led to the dismissal of Justin Browning and Alphonso Baity, have been impactful to not only The University, but especially to the athletic department.
On Oct. 6 Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs, announced through a campus-wide notification that a sexual assault investigation had taken place on Oct. 2 and due to a preponderance of evidence, a decision to dismiss Browning and Baity was made.
Both student-athletes appealed their dismissals and both have been rejected.
“When The University first told me about the incident and decision to dismiss, I was shocked. Alphonso has been a great kid in our program and in this community,” said Charles Ernst, head basketball coach.
The incident has been personal for Ernst and he showed this through his tweets he posted on Oct. 7, the day after the campus notification was sent to UF students, faculty, staff and parents.
“I have been at Findlay for 26 years and found it necessary to make a statement, rather than just simply move on to the next program update. This has had a profound effect on me and my family personally. Our players are like sons to me and I take that responsibility very seriously,” said Ernst.
Baity was a junior and starting guard for The Oilers and according to Ernst, meant a great deal to the team just as the rest of his players do.
“We miss his leadership, personality and experience. Just like any student on campus, you miss your close friends when they leave, especially when it is abruptly. With that said, our team knows that no one feels sorry for them. We have moved ahead, because the season is quickly approaching and we have high goals for ourselves,” said Ernst.
Ernst is adamant in that the incident is not reflective of the character of his players and continues to look forward.
“As the head coach, I am constantly talking with our players about making good decisions. We have great kids in this program. That has not changed. It is important that I and the rest of campus continue to educate our students on TITLE IX and the Federal mandates on sexual assault,” said Ernst.
Robert Keys, head football coach, is handling the situation similarly with forward-thinking.
Browning was not a starter, but was one of the 115 that make up the unit that is Findlay football.
“Justin meant the same thing to the team as any other of my players do. Every one of our players brings something different to the program. Each is valuable. I have three daughters and I see my players as my sons—one’s not more valuable than the other,” said Keys.
Athletic director Steve Rackley was contacted for comment, but referred all questions to Rebecca Jenkins, director of marketing and communication.
Emsweller told The Pulse that he believes there was alcohol involved in the incident. Keys acknowledged that party or alcohol related issues aren’t new.
“Ninety-nine percent of the problems that ever cross my desk are alcohol related. When we get rid of the alcohol, we won’t have as many issues like these,” said Keys.
Keys has recognized the seriousness of the event and its effects, but has quickly regained focus to move forward.
“We have had no issues moving forward. Our motto is win the day. We are determined to be our best each day and if we aren’t we win the next day,” said Keys.
Just like Ernst, Keys is a coach that constantly emphasizes the importance of decision making on and off of the field.
“Since I’ve been the head coach, for four years now, I’ve always been proactive about making the right decisions. This program is bigger than one person. Now I have 114 others to focus on. We want to focus our attention on the guys that are making the right decisions,” said Keys.