With the arrest of Ole Miss freshman defensive end Charles Wiley, the Rebels are faced with the opportunity to establish a precedent regarding their view on domestic violence.
Ole Miss’ defensive end Charles Wiley was arrested Monday evening on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence. When I first learned of this through a Twitter post by hottytoddy.com writer Collin Brister, my stomach immediately began to turn sour. I do not know if he is guilty or not. I hope not. But the epidemic of domestic violence by athletes have been covered thoroughly over the past couple of years. Yet, time and time again these athletes find themselves in the news for their behavior.
I must be clear. Any man who hits, beats, chokes or sexual assaults a woman is the biggest cowardly punk on the planet. Short of his life being in danger, no man has the right to violently assault a woman. I don’t care what she has said. I don’t care where she has been. If you are a man who is violent toward a woman you are not a man, you are a child.
In a legal setting, I’m a firm believer in due process. We as citizens of this great nation are legally entitled to the process. But whether someone has the opportunity to play on a football team of a public university is not governed by those laws. Now I’m ok with schools allowing the process to play out until the facts are gathered. But a team must be proactive and sit the player until the facts come out.
But if there is a video that shows the incident, there is no need to wait. There was nothing Ray Rice could have said that would justify him punching his wife in an elevator. There should have been nothing Jeffery Simmons could have said to justify him punching a girl on the ground while she was being kicked by another girl. Now, I’m not saying that I know if Wiley did or did not commit domestic violence. But if he is did, he needs to sit for a long, long time.
I’m not talking about a pitiful, ceremonial one game suspension that is simply done for show. Domestic violence is a problem. It is an epidemic among our young men in sports. Instead of facing the problem head on, we deflect. It is too serious to be ignored. When the Simmons video came out, I called for a more severe penalty than a one game suspension against a non-Power 5 team. If it is found that Wiley committed this crime, I want a strong punishment for him as well.
I’m not talking about redshirting him. If he is guilty of domestic violence, he should lose real-time without the protection of a redshirt. Coach Hugh Freeze and Athletic Director Ross Bjork need to set a precedent for all other athletes in the Ole Miss program. Domestic violence WILL NOT be tolerated.
Noticed I didn’t tell you how many stars Wiley had. Noticed I didn’t tell you how big he is or how fast he runs or how many tackles he had. Those things don’t matter. If the charges are found to be valid, he needs to sit. It doesn’t matter what any other school did regarding their five-star defensive lineman. We are the flagship university of the state of Mississippi. We are Ole Miss. We set the example, we don’t follow.
I don’t want Ole Miss to be the kind of school that defends domestic violence with ignorant statements about the perpetrator’s background. Or by foolish statement saying, “that’s just how they behave in his neighborhood.” Besides being a tinge racist, those statements blame everyone else except the one that actually committed the atrocity.
I hope to find out that this young man didn’t commit the crime. But I can’t be hypocritical about my stance on this issue. I won’t blame the victim. I don’t want to compare this with anything or anyone else. I don’t care about what was done in the past with other players or other programs.
Hugh Freeze understandably gave the standard coach’s statement regarding the situation. “We are aware of the situation and recognize that proper authorities are responsible for the matter. Charles is being withheld from all team activities while the process moves forward. We take incidents like this very seriously and will make decisions once the course of action is complete.”
If these allegations are true, I don’t advocate giving up on the young man. But I do believe Ole Miss has a responsibility to set a standard in its program. Regardless of what has been allowed in the past, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what’s right.” The time is now.