Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman and basketball coach John Groce made the right decision Tuesday when they dismissed Kendrick Nunn, the Illini’s second-leading scorer last season, from the team.
Last week Nunn was charged with hitting a woman in the head, pushing her to the floor and pouring water on her during an argument in her apartment. He pled guilty to misdemeanor battery charges. Now, his playing days at Illinois are finished.
“We have made the decision to dismiss Kendrick Nunn from the men’s basketball team, effective immediately,” Whitman and Groce said in a joint statement. “We have not reached this decision easily; we care deeply about Kendrick and want him to be successful. But after extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior for our student-athletes at the University of Illinois, and to part ways with Kendrick.
“As it is on college campuses across the country, relationship violence is of significant concern at our University, and we expect Fighting Illini student athletes to be leaders in promoting healthy, respectful, caring relationships. We wish Kendrick all the best as he prepares for the next chapter of his life.”
Whatever the motivation for dismissing Nunn, whether it was truly the desire to “reaffirm our core values…” or fear of public backlash considering the ugly scandal engulfing Baylor, accused of ignoring a series of rape and other allegations of violence toward women by Baylor football players over a seven-year period, it was the right thing to do, and a strong message all universities should heed.
Baylor has remained eerily silent as even more disturbing allegations have been reported. On Tuesday, the school’s board of regents finally took action, reportedly firing president Ken Starr, while leaving, for now, football coach Art Briles, the mastermind behind the Bears’ rise from doormat to national power, unscathed.
Good for Illinois for taking a stand. It’s the right move and a positive step that should send a message that violence against women will not be tolerated. It really isn’t that hard. At Baylor, the violence — rape — is more heinous, and the alleged inaction of the university’s leaders is both pathetic and shameful.
Chip Brown of Horns Digest was first to report Starr’s firing Tuesday. As news organizations began banging on Baylor’s door following Brown’s report, the school issued a press release that failed to comment on the reported firing of Starr, but did say that an announcement is expected by June 3 regarding the findings of the investigation carried out by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton.
As we wait and Baylor presumably deliberates, we can only hope that the Baptist school’s silence on this sickening matter will finally end, and the school’s leaders will finally take appropriate action to “reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior for our student-athletes at” … Baylor University.