OU football: The problem with what Frank Shannon said
Frank Shannon has spoken.
He didn’t have to talk to the media, so bully for him for being willing to answer questions Tuesday after practice.
Shannon is the Oklahoma linebacker who was suspended for a year by the university after a Title IX sexual misconduct investigation. He appealed the suspension, and the case ultimately went all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. He ended up missing last season because of the suspension but is now back with the Sooners.
Tuesday was his first time speaking to reporters since. Our OU beat writer Jason Kersey was there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in attendance. Jason said Shannon was forthcoming, didn’t dodge questions, even answered questions from reporters who he knows have been critical.
But still, seeing some of what Shannon had to say turned my stomach. When asked about his year-long suspension, he said, “It was pretty tough.” Then when asked why he wanted to still play for the Sooners even after the school suspended him, he said, “One thing, I felt like … I didn’t do nothing.”
Perhaps Shannon was being totally honest in those statements. It probably was tough, and all along, he has continued to say that he was innocent. But saying such things makes it feel like Shannon believes he’s the victim in all of this.
Maybe that’s not how he intended it. Maybe if I had been there, I would think otherwise.
But I am like most folks – most folks are only going to read Shannon’s comments. They weren’t there. They are only going to see those quotes on a page or a screen. And when you read those words, you get the sense that Shannon wants to be the victim.
The Oklahoman obtained the Title IX report before it was sealed by a judge, and having read it, I can tell you that the real victim isn’t Shannon. In the report completed by OU’s Sexual Misconduct Office, some compelling testimony is provided by the trained sexual assault nurse examiner who examined the alleged victim. She had an abrasion consistent with blunt force trauma in an area that the examiner indicated is “one of the most common locations of injury in sexual assault.”
That testimony paired with that of more than a dozen other people led the investigative panel to conclude that Shannon should be expelled.
Sources close to the investigation told Kersey earlier this summer that the panel voted for expulsion. Only after an appeal to Clarke Stroud, OU’s vice president for student affairs, who thought expulsion was too hard, was the punishment reduced to a year’s suspension.
Obviously, Frank Shannon has been punished. He’s done the time. He’s missed a year of the game he loves. He appears to have done everything that’s been asked of him to return to the football team.
But none of that makes him a victim.
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