A question of who-told-what-to-whom has University of Washington football coach Chris Petersen ensnared in the fallout from a sexual assault conviction Thursday in Waco, TX., of a former Boise State player who transferred from Petersen’s old school to Baylor University, where the assault was committed.
Petersen dismissed DE Sam Ukwuachu from Boise State in May 2013 for an unspecified violation of team rules. When he sought a transfer to Baylor, Petersen says he informed coach Art Briles of the player’s disciplinary history, which apparently included a report of an assault by Ukuwachu on his then-girlfriend.
Briles said Friday he was told nothing about the player’s history by Petersen, who responded quickly to an ESPN.com email asking for comment. Petersen wrote:
After Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football program and expressed an interest in transferring to Baylor, I initiated a call with coach Art Briles. In that conversation, I thoroughly apprised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam’s disciplinary record and dismissal.
Ukwuachu sat out the 2013 season per NCAA transfer rules and did not play in 2014 after being suspended following his 2013 arrest on the rape charge in Waco of a player on the women’s soccer team.
During the trial, according to the Waco Tribune via ESPN.com, the former girlfriend at Boise State testified that Ukwuachu punched her in the head several times, choked her, physically restrained her from leaving, and had a reputation for having a violent temper.
Ukwuachu denied those allegations, but has not played a game for Baylor. Friday he was sentenced to 10 years of felony probation and placed in the county jail for 180 days. He will also have to serve 400 hours of community service. Ukwuachu was facing up to 20 years in prison.
Friday in Waco following news of the conviction, Briles claimed to reporters he had no knowledge of the player’s Boise State history.
“No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed and needing to come home,” Briles said. “So that was our information. And that’s what you go by.”
When asked specifically if Boise State had informed Baylor of Ukwuachu’s disciplinary record, Briles was emphatic in his denial.
“No. No. That’s not true,” Briles said. “Lord, no. No, there’s no truth. Find out who informed us and talk to them, please.”
The woman in the Waco episode, who has since transferred, testified that Ukwuachu assaulted her at his apartment and that she yelled “no” and screamed during the assault, according to reports. She also testified that Ukwuachu told her, “This is not rape,” and asked her whether she was going to call the police.