Chris Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
When Xavier announced earlier this month the expulsion of star guard Dezmine Wells, the move seemed rash and awfully premature. At the outset, the school was reticent to release any specific details and we were left to assume Wells’ dismissal was completely within bounds, that his actions were heinous and severe enough to warrant such decisive punishment. XU termed Wells’ transgression a “severe violation of the Code of Student Conduct”, but claimed “federal privacy law restrictions” prevented a more thorough explanation. CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman reported the incident involved sexual misconduct, which put Wells – who, in the immediate aftermath of the allegations coming to light, didn’t respond to the school’s actions – in a particularly bad light. As XU’s best returning player, Wells’ actions damaged not only his own reputation but his former school’s prospects on the court next season. Several developments over the past week and change have shifted the tenor of that narrative.
An Ohio grand jury exposed the XU conduct board for its hasty litigation process, essentially claiming that the suit was improperly adjudicated in a way that violated the basic tenets of the American judicial system. Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters officially denounced the XU’s criminal charges and called its disciplinary process “seriously flawed.” XU in response held firm to its protocol and refused to back down after the grand jury’s ruling. The school reiterated its stance on Wells’ actions under the contention that its ethical and disciplinary standards differ from those of the American justice system, and thus covered itself against criticism from the suspicious eyes of nuanced legal officials like Deters. In a statement released to ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil, XU justified its retributive protocol:
The process used by the Xavier University Conduct Board is the standard used in American universities. The XU Conduct Board heard evidence that may or may not have been heard by the grand jury. After the Conduct Board reached its decision, the matter was considered and upheld by an appeal board of members of the student body, faculty and staff and is final.