The Indiana University football program has finished what had seemed to become a foregone conclusion. The Indiana Daily Student posted this statement on Twitter following a release by the school:
IU has released a statement on Morgan Ellison.
He is suspended from the University for 2.5 years and he is permanently dismissed from the #iufb team. pic.twitter.com/zR2zFWx8Oc
— Cameron Drummond (@cdrummond97) October 19, 2018
You can read our story from earlier this week below chronicling the series of events that led to today’s news.
Originally Published on October 14 —
First there was a glimmer of hope. And now things appear to spiraling down the drain in a disturbing fashion.
No, we aren’t talking about the 2018 Indiana football season — although that would be an apt description. Sadly, this is about something much more serious than football.
The glimmer of hope was the news that came out on October 2 that Indiana running back Morgan Ellison had resumed practicing with the team. Ellison had been suspended back in August from “all football related activities.”
In isolation it looked like things were moving in the right direction. Perhaps a disturbing crime did not occur and last season’s leading rusher might be working his way back to the field.
At the time, IU head coach Tom Allen said this about Ellison’s return to practice —
“The bottom line is that he’s been allowed to be with our team recently,” Allen said during the teleconference. “We still have no answer for his game opportunities, but he’s been allowed to be around us on a consistent basis now, which has helped. But we still don’t know the long-term future yet.”
But there was still the question of why Ellison had been suspended indefinitely back in August. Sworn to secrecy, we had heard why at the time — and it turned out to be good information. Irrespective of guilt, we expected Ellison to be gone already just based on the nature of the accusation.
But there was that glimmer of hope. Maybe he was falsely accussed? And then the details started to emerge — and the spiral began. Once the water starts circling the drain, there is little doubt how things are going to end.
The first bit of news came out on Thursday. The Indy Star reported it this way —
“An Indiana University panel determined that football player Morgan Ellison sexually assaulted a fellow IU student while she slept and then used force to continue the assault when she woke up, IndyStar has learned.”
There were several interesting facts in the story, including that this was an IU panel, and not a police investigation. Apparently Ellison’s accuser chose to report the incident to the school but not authorities, and IU has no policy that requires it to refer such reports to the police.
The panel concluded that Ellison should be suspended from Indiana University for 2 1/2 years. Interestingly, that ruling came out the next day after it broke that Ellison had returned to practice. An immediate question is why Ellison would have been allowed to return with the panel’s decision looming. More on that below.
Things got murkier when the Indiana Daily Student reported that Ellison was still on the IU campus and attending classes on Thursday.
Next, the details on the incident itself emerged as the Indy Star reported on records it obtained which outlined the accuser’s statements during the investigation, including disturbing accounts such as —
“It hurt so much and when I woke up I was like stop stop and he wouldn’t stop,” she texted a friend almost immediately after Ellison left her bedroom
Ellison has reportedly filed an appeal of the IU panel’s ruling which likely explains why he is still attending classes.
In a press conference after Indiana’s loss to Iowa on Saturday, Allen was questioned about the particulars of the investigation and Ellison’s participation in practice —
Allen has said repeatedly since the suspension was originally announced in August that he has no control in the decision making process as it relates to this situation. Given the importance and sensitivity of the subject, we highly doubt IU administrators and Fred Glass allowed Allen to unilaterally green light a return to practice. But someone clearly did.
Again, Ellison has not been charged with a crime and again, he is not under investigation by police. It isn’t clear how long the appeal of the IU panel’s decision will take. Irrespective of that outcome, given the sensitive nature of this matter, we don’t see how Ellison survives at IU.
Even in the best case where he is innocent of any wrongdoing, Ellison’s name is associated with some disturbing accusations. That cloud will follow him wherever he goes in Bloomington.
In the worst case, IU can’t get him out of town fast enough, and he’ll be incredibly fortunate if that’s his only punishment. In fact, that would be incredibly unfortunate.
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