KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Vanderbilt coach James Franklin doesn’t talk about the rape case involving four players arrested in August on charges of raping an unconscious student.
His press conference on Monday showed one way of redirecting uncomfortable questions: Talk about the good stuff the team does.
A reporter asked Monday about a recent report that said a fifth player in the case, Chris Boyd, was still attending classes at Vanderbilt. Boyd was not charged with rape, but he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor related to helping cover up the alleged crime. Vandy dismissed him from the football program, but as the charge was not a felony, Boyd was not expelled from the university or barred from campus.
Rather than say just that, or ask that the reporter seek clarification from the university about its official policy on students charged with misdemeanors, Franklin icily changed the subject: “I don’t know if you saw, but there was an unbelievable video that was released today by the Vanderbilt athletic department on our trip to Tanzania and Africa. Shoes for Souls, I think it was. Unbelievable video. So if you guys get a chance to check that out, I strongly recommend you do that.”
The reporter asked a follow-up question.
Franklin raised his voice: “It’s a GREAT video that we’ve released talking about the impact that our kids make not only this campus but also reaching out across all different aspects and try to make a difference in people’s lives.”
With that kind of pitch, how could we not watch the video?