Innocent until proven guilty—a principle commonly known in our justice system, yet selectively used among athletes in our society.
Jonathan Taylor was a recently admitted students into the University of Alabama at the beginning of this year, following his dismissal from the University of Georgia for his alleged assaults on his girlfriend last July. Considering that the assaults were just allegations, Alabama’s coach, Nick Saban decided that Taylor should still be reconsidered and given another chance.
This followed Saban’s and Alabama athletic director, Bill Battle’s decision to allow Taylor on the team at the beginning of this year.
Battle stated, “In this particular situation, we thoroughly investigated numerous sources regarding the young man. I had extensive discussions with several people who have been very close to him, including a lengthy visit with this young man. Our coaches and I feel he is worthy of a second chance at completing his college football career at this level, and that he fully understands the position in which he has placed himself.”
So, while the former Georgia and Alabama University defensive lineman was reconsidered for his past allegation, why not now?
Even Saban’s recent press conference—which was highly criticized by the media speaks on his unapologetic reason for allowing Taylor into his university in the first place. A speech that some areas of the media felt caused more controversy.
“No, I’m not sorry for giving him an opportunity, I’m sorry for the way things worked out. I’m not apologizing for the opportunity we gave him. We wanted to try and help the guy make it work, it didn’t work We’re sorry it didn’t work, we’re sorry there was an incident, we’re sorry for the people that were involved in the incident,” said Saban
A speech that did anything but diffuse the situation, especially when the victim, his former girlfriend, recants all recent accusations that she filed against him.
So, now, not only are we still waiting on Taylor’s official verdict for his July charges, prior to his UA days, his recent accusations have now been denied.
So, where’s Saban’s credibility now?
Athletes like Hope Solo, however, were selected a better hand of cards in our society. After having charges put against her, Solo, the American soccer player, who was accused of domestic violence last June, was never dropped from her team.
This two-time gold medalist and now, American soccer goalkeeper was instead allowed the standard principle from our justice system.
She was considered innocent until proven guilty. And, to her benefit, charges were dismissed and her professional career remained intact and more importantly un-stigmatized.
Few articles comparing the fortunate outcome of her case were compared with the many other less fortunate, yet highly similar in nature—results of other college and professional athletes. Cases which primarily happened to involve African-American male athletes, e.g., Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Taylor.
However, we can’t say the same for the ex-University of Alabama defensive lineman, Jonathan Taylor.
After being arrested for domestic violence charges at the end of March, Jonathan Taylor was soon after dropped from the team at UA, is no longer a student, nor is he allowed readmission into the school.
His former girlfriend recanted all accusations against Taylor but nowhere yet have we heard anything similar come out the mouths of his former coach Nick Saban or anyone else from the University of Alabama, who are responsible for immediately stigmatizing the player before proven guilty.
Jonathan may or may not be guilty, similar to Hope’s case before it was final. But, just like anything with the law, we don’t know until we receive the verdict.
Taylor was stigmatized before given the fairness of the law, something Hope Solo was fortunate enough to receive.