The breaking of students' jaws, forgery, drunkenness and now sexual assault are among the offenses allegedly committed by Tennessee football players in the last two years. None of that seemed to bother the fifth-ranked Vols last Saturday, though; they routed No. 9 Florida 45-3 despite the absence of three players who had been suspended from the team after they allegedly assaulted a female student in the athletic dorm two nights earlier.
Last week coach Johnny Majors suspended starting defensive end Kacy Rodgers, reserve linebacker Dewayne Dotson and freshman running back Keith Jeter following the most recent in a series of disturbing incidents involving Tennessee football players. Not since running back Reggie Cobb failed a drug test for the fourth time and was dismissed last fall has Majors taken such a drastic measure. Majors cited the seriousness of the latest charges and the "clear violation of team rules"—women are not permitted in the players' dorm on Thursday nights—as his reasons for disciplining the players.
The university has refused to release a preliminary campus-police report in order to protect the complainant's and the players' privacy. However, this much is known about what occurred in Gibbs Hall last Thursday night and early Friday morning. At 2:58 a.m. on Oct. 12, campus police were notified by Knoxville police that a female student had called claiming to have been sexually assaulted. She named Rodgers, Dotson and Jeter as the assailants.
As of Monday no charges had been filed against any of the three players. All four students had given statements to campus police. According to Phil Scheurer, vice-chancellor for student affairs, "There is considerable disagreement among the students involved about what actually occurred."
Things seem to be getting out of hand in Knoxville. In May 1989 tailback Chuck Webb was arrested for forging a teammate's signature on a check. Webb was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. Majors added another 100 hours. But Webb's troubles weren't over. He was suspended from school for the spring 1990 semester for cheating. Now back in school, he hasn't played since injuring his knee in the first game of the season.
Last May defensive end Chuck Smith allegedly punched, and broke the jaw of, a Tennessee baseball player. He was scheduled to appear in court this week, but Majors has taken no action. Fullback Greg Amsler was twice arrested in Knoxville over the summer, first for DWI and two months later for public intoxication and fleeing police. Amsler is undergoing counseling, and the charges could be dropped later, but Amsler has not missed a game.
On Sept. 28 four players allegedly confronted a student named Kirby Salton at his dormitory, and defensive back Jeremy Lincoln accused him of harassing Lincoln's girlfriend. Lineman Chris Mims thought he saw Salton reach for a weapon, and broke his jaw. Salton had a starter's pistol, the kind used at track meets. He refused to file charges. Majors has taken no action pending a student code-of-conduct hearing.
Majors responded to suggestions that he is reluctant to discipline his players by saying, "I vehemently disagree. Anyone who says that doesn't know me. There are a lot more important things than winning a football game. We have our own rules and regulations, and we don't release them to the public. I'm harder than folks might think."
Jeter, a reserve, was suspended.
So was Rodgers, a first-stringer.
And Dotson, a backup linebacker.