We’ve learned a lot in the last 48 hours.
First, on Monday morning, we learned that TCU receiver/returner KaVontae Turpin had been arrested on Sunday, and charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member. Next, we heard the details, which were disturbing, and Gary Patterson made it known on his Monday conference call that Turpin was suspended, while the coaching staff gathered more information.
Later in the afternoon news broke that Turpin had previously been arrested in Las Cruces, New Mexico in March of this year, for battery and property damage. Questions began to arise at that point about what TCU and the coaching staff, more specifically Gary Patterson, knew about that March incident.
Tuesday would provide answers, mostly, when Gary Patterson took the podium during his weekly press conference.
TCU’s head coach announced that Turpin had been dismissed, saying that Turpin, “will not be allowed to be on our football team anymore. This is not something that can be tolerated.”
Patterson told media that he knew about the March incident, but that he was only aware of the portion of the incident involving property damage. According to Patterson, he was under the impression that the resulting consequence was a ticket. Patterson noted that he was not aware of any court date, or of the battery charges, until Monday of this week.
Drew Davison of the FWST is reporting that police officers in New Mexico aren’t sure how TCU could have only received partial information:
“The criminal complaint contains the information relevant to the arrest and, obviously, contains information on both charges (the battery against a HHM [household member] and the criminal damage to property),” said Dan Trujillo, the Las Cruces police department public information officer.
Details of the incident, according to the Star Telegram, included Turpin breaking a woman’s phone, and punching a hole in a door.
TCU sent an official statement to the Fort Worth Star Telegram that elaborated on Patterson’s comments from Tuesday, revealing at least a portion of their process for looking into issues such as this:
In a statement to the Star-Telegram, a TCU spokesperson said, “The football staff reviewed a commercial website that provides arrest records, but that account was incomplete. Our team did not do enough to get the full story. We would not have allowed Turpin to play had we known about an outstanding arrest warrant.”
Which begs the question: Is that really it?
I’d like to hear more from TCU about the full process for investigating an incident involving one of their student athletes. Certainly it can’t be as simple as doing a bit of internet research, without even calling the police department?
Patterson said Tuesday that he had a staffer look into it, and the report with the property damage is what came of that process. I understand the delegation. A head coach has to be able to trust their staff to do a comprehensive investigation. But at the same time, there has to be a clear, comprehensive process in place for the staffer to follow, and that’s on the head coach.
The responsibility is on Patterson and the athletic department to ensure they do their due diligence.
It seems as though TCU absolutely needs to rethink their process, and to institute a new, more intense procedure for investigating claims against their players.
The simple fact is this: had the full story about KaVontae Turpin come out in March, had TCU done their due diligence and discovered the full contents of the police report, Turpin would not have been a part of the football program this season. I firmly believe that.
But the lack of due diligence, to me, is frustrating. TCU knew that Turpin was in New Mexico with his girlfriend. They knew he was late coming back, and thanks to a tip from another player, they knew Turpin had been involved in an incident.
Their response was to use a third-party, internet resource to try and find out more. Not to call the police in Las Cruces and ask. Not to request the actual report directly from the officers.
That’s incredibly disappointing.
TCU has to do better. My hope is that, moving forward, they will.