It seems like a yearly occurrence that a college program is brought into the spotlight for the wrong reason. Most notability we saw schools such as Penn State and Stanford be brought into the spotlight because of inappropriate actions done by the school athletes. You can now add Vanderbilt to the list. However, the difference between what happened at Vanderbilt and what happened in many of the other Division-One schools is this incident involved a former player of the Vanderbilt football team and he was punished.
Back in 2013, four former Vanderbilt football players were charged with the rape of an unconscious woman. In regards to the statistics on this crime, they are staggering. According to Rainn, 43% of rapes are done by a friend or an acquaintance, 27% are done by a current or former spouse, and probably the most disturbing one is that 93% of victims under the age of 18 knew the person who raped them. What do these statistics have to do with what happened with Vanderbilt? The victim was dating Brandon Vandenburg.
He was recently sentenced to 17 years in jail after he was found guilty on eight felony counts in the case after the trial in June. Right off the back, this differentiates from other ones because the person was found guilty even though he was a former athlete. But I feel where this really is different is from what the victim said in a statement that was read in the courthouse by the Assistant District Attorney General Jan Norman, who read it on her behalf.
The statement read as, “ Please do not use my absence as an excuse for leniency, as it in no way diminishes the profound and insidious impact of Mr. Vandenburg on me and my life.” Norman would continue what the victim said, “I still ask that he receive the full sentence allowed under the law for orchestrating the almost 30- minute gang rape against me, a defenseless woman who trusted him.” It should be noted that when this happened, Mr. Vandenburg was dating the victim.
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The Prosecutors felt that the minimum was not enough for what this animal did. They were pushing towards the upper end of the 15-25 year range. They used the argument that Vandenburg betrayed her trust and ended up being the leader in the attack. What makes his punishment different is that the judge who ended up sentencing Vanderburg did not mention any parole, which means that Vandenburg needs to serve all seventeen years. He is also registered as a sex offender.
As a sports fan and one who was around for many of these incidents happening, I applaud how being a former college athlete did not mean that he was above the law. I hope that if this continues to happen that athletes are not held above the law. I do not care if you the top player in your college’s sport and bring in a lot of money, once you do something as heinous as raping another human being you should lose it all. I have said it before and I will say it again, once schools knock their athletes down a few pegs and treat them like everyone else, maybe this will slow down.
It sickens me as a fan of sports that I am constantly hearing about this, it sets a bad image for the sport and for the industry. I feel what happened with the ex-college football player from Vanderbilt was the right move as it showed that no one is above the law.
If you end up doing something like this, then in my eyes you are nothing but a scumbag. It boggles my mind that people feel it’s a good thing when this happens. In regards to when a college athlete does this, I find it baffling how the athlete feels they did nothing wrong and the school covers it up.