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Details About Sam Ukwuachu’s Final Days at Boise State Based on Notes From the School’s Assistant Athletic Director

When trying to determine what exactly Chris Petersen told Art Briles, assistant Boise State Athletic Director Marc Paul’s vivid description of Sam Ukwuachu’s troubled final days at the university fills in some gaps.

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(Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)

On Friday, the story of Samuel Ukwuachu, the Baylor defensive end who was convicted of felony sexual assault on Thursday evening, continued to unfold. In the morning, Baylor head coach Art Briles told ESPN that he “talked with Chris Petersen personally,” and heard “no mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed, needing to come home.” Petersen—who is now the current head coach at Washington—was Boise State’s head coach when Ukwuachu transferred and dismissed the player in May 2013.

A few hours after Briles’ statement to the press, Petersen made a statement of his own, in which he claimed, “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.”

The thoroughness of Petersen’s appraisal remains a question. On Friday evening, Briles released another statement about the conversation he and Petersen had in May 2013:

“I was contacted by Coach Petersen at Boise State in spring 2013 and he told me he had a player from Texas who needed to get closer to home and that he thought our program would be a good spot for him. I know and respect Coach Petersen and he would never recommend a student-athlete to Baylor that he didn’t believe in. In our discussion, he did not disclose that there had been violence toward women, but he did tell me of a rocky relationship with his girlfriend which contributed to his depression. The only disciplinary action I was aware of were team-related issues, insubordination of coaches and missing practice.”

At press time, Petersen hasn’t responded to Texas Monthly’s request for an interview to clarify exactly what he apprised Briles of. But documents obtained by Texas Monthly during the course of reporting our original story on Ukwuachu indicate that Petersen knew more than merely that Ukwuachu had “a rocky relationship with his girlfriend.” An email sent from assistant Boise State athletic director Marc Paul to himself on June 22, 2015, outlines in exacting detail what occurred between May 2 and May 5 2013, the final days of Ukwuachu’s time at the university. It also lists exactly who Paul communicated those details to—including the player himself, Coach Petersen, Ukwuachu’s girlfriend and roommate, and other members of the school’s athletic department.

We’ve redacted the document to protect the identities of his roommate and girlfriend, and to protect Ukwuachu’s own private medical information.

5/2/2013
Spoke with S.Uk and informed him would be calling parents. Athlete understood and ok’d call to parents.

[…]

Felix thanked me for the call and was going to call S.Uk when got off the phone.

5/4
Rec’d call from [assistant coach] A. Avalos re: S.Uk. Got call from roommate (EH) that S.Uk had been drinking. […]

Talked to EH and was not letting his girlfriend into house due to drunken belligerent state of S.Uk. EH has been trying to keep him in the house while protecting his girlfriend.

Called Tony Platt to have officers respond and take into protective custody. Following call, texted EH to tell him officers were on way. EH responded with need them immediately because he has punched a window and cut his wrist. Explained later that S.Uk’s wrist was bandaged when EH came home earlier in the evening and re-cut wrist when punched window.

Spoke with [girlfriend]. They got into argument today re: spring fling at school. [girlfriend] was not at home at time of conversation and informed her NOT to go home. She assured me would not go home and go to friend’s house tonight.”

Have spoken with C. Petersen, [assistant coach] A. Avalos, [then-Boise State Athletic Director] M. Coyle, CVP, and [then-Boise State assistant Athletic Director] C. Apsey. Left message to attempt to speak to officer Jermaine Galloway.”

[…]

“Spoke with C. Petersen @ 8 AM. Got copy of text messages that S.Uk sent to EH at some point last night using derogatory names. Forwarded to Tony Platt so BPD [Boise Police Department] can assist with helping look after EH if necessary.

Spoke with S.Uk’s father and mother and informed them of previous night’s incident. Father became agitated when informed that S.Uk had been drinking and became violent. Suggested to them that they need to come to Boise and get S.Uk and take him home for further help. Mother informed that has plane ticket for May 15th, but told her he needs to go home sooner and that would attempt to help with withdrawal from school. Mother seemed to understand and they will speak with C. Petersen this morning.

Spoke with Tony Platt 8:30 AM re: S.Uk. Reviewed tips to help with situation, most of which we are already doing. Gave OK to call for help again or for officer to go to house with staff member if need to in future.

[…]

Was obvious he was still agitated from previous night’s events, so called [girlfriend] at 8:53 and left message to NOT go back to house. Wanted her to wait until she knew S.Uk was not at home and to go get some clothes and items with plans on staying somewhere else for a few days. Also left instructions to call or text back that she got the message. Did not hear back from her.

S.Uk spoke with C. Petersen. Will meet tomorrow with them at 8 AM at school in CP’s office.

This correspondence indicates that Petersen was aware of Ukwuachu’s behavior in his final week at Boise State—as does the fact that at the end of that week, Petersen dismissed Ukwuachu from the team. It doesn’t tell us what the content of the conversation between Briles and Petersen was, though.

In addition to Briles’ second statement, the press release Baylor sent to the media included a copy of Baylor’s transfer information request, which was filled out by Jenny Bellomy, Boise State’s director of compliance. The press release asked the media to note “items 14 and 17,” which deal with Ukwuachu’s eligibility to return to Boise State. However, in an October 23, 2013, email sent to Boise State by Baylor’s Bethany McCraw, the Dean of Student Conduct responsible for the school’s investigation into the incident, asks, “Can you confirm that Mr. Ukwuachu was not suspended or expelled from Boise State University for any reason and is thus eligible to immediately return?” In other words, the form doesn’t suggest that Ukwuachu hadn’t been suspended or disciplined by the Boise State football team—just that he hadn’t formally been expelled from the university following his dismissal from the Broncos.

While we don’t know exactly what was said between Briles and Petersen, there is evidence that Petersen knew the extent of Ukwuachu’s actions in May 2013 and that he took it seriously enough at the time to immediately dismiss Ukwuachu from the team. We also know that the discipline enforced by Petersen wasn’t a question asked by Baylor on the form distributed to media on Friday evening. There are a number of questions remaining, but the nature of Sam Ukwuachu’s final days at Boise State—and who knew the details—is not among them.

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  • Joe Smith

    “An email sent from assistant Boise State athletic director Marc Paul to himself on June 22, 2015, outlines in exacting detail what occurred between May 2 and May 5 2013, the final days of Ukwuachu’s time at the university. It also lists exactly who Paul communicated those details to—including the player himself, Coach Petersen, Ukwuachu’s girlfriend and roommate, and other members of the school’s athletic department.”

    It does not, whatsoever, indicate what details were communicated to whom.

    “However, in an October 23, 2013, email sent to Boise State by Baylor’s Bethany McCraw, the Dean of Student Conduct responsible for the school’s investigation into the incident, asks, “Can you confirm that Mr. Ukwuachu was not suspended or expelled from Boise State University for any reason and is thus eligible to immediately return?”

    Bethany McCraw’s investigation has nothing to do with the form. She was investigating the rape that occurred in Waco, not the incident that occurred in Boise prior to Ukwuachu’s transfer. You are conflating the two.

  • Thankin_Hank

    Bad News Bears. I predict crowds will BOOO Art Briles if he don’t get fired before the season starts. This will hurt college football/sports. Pro football has gotten bad enough.

    • Tim

      Nothing like a bleeding heart liberal to not have a clue. Want a little wager on whether he gets fired? Or is that part of your retirement money you can’t afford to lose?

      • Tha Row

        How do you know he’s s a liberal?

      • Dan McClinton

        No one who knows me would consider me in any way shape or form a liberal, but Briles should have found out all he could about a player that had been dismissed from another program. This wink and a nod stuff has got to stop. It appears criminal behavior may have been tolerated or ignored in the name of getting a good football player…truly sad. I also find it interesting that we find out about all of this the day before he’s convicted. The Waco media is apparently all-in on Baylor, which having grown up in Waco surprises me not one bit.

      • JL Todd

        If he is a liberal, then you are a right winged nutbag that oddly jumps to conclusions about people and resorts to insults to try to make a point.

  • Tha Row

    This pushes all the chips to the center of the table. I figured what would happen is Peterson would say he didn’t know about the domestic violence incident and that way it would cover him and Briles.

  • J. Jason Jonas

    Sadly, a young woman has had her life altered forever. Worse, it could have been avoided with a small amount of due diligence. My children will attend a college with integrity, not a school that wants to win at all costs.
    If this case had been left in Baylor’s incompetent hands, the defendant would have never been indicted. Thanks to the D.A.’s office, he won’t be seeing the football field In 2015, no matter what Phil Bennett says.
    Nonetheless, Briles will continue to coach and will continue to give “second chances” to players of questionable character. He will continue to collect millions of dollars per year while rapists and thugs roam the campus.
    Sure, Baylor will conduct a half-ass investigation, but they will never try to find out whether Briles lied about his conversation with Peterson. We will have to wait for the inevitable next sexual assault for anything to happen.

    • David

      So Briles is a scumbag for showing a kid some grace? You may want to remember that Ukwuachu never played a down of football for Baylor, so there goes your “win at all costs” mantra.

      • Lane Weaver

        Actually he was on the Baylor campus when the assault happened, which part of the mantra are you missing David?

        • David

          But he didn’t play. So how is he helping to win if he doesn’t play? There are several crimes committed on campus yearly, none of which are helping Baylor win football games.

          • Lane Weaver

            The fact that he was allowed on the Baylor campus after getting kicked off another football program without knowing the FULL specifics on why he was kicked out of that program tells me Baylor is in ‘win at all costs” mode!

          • David

            You have missed most of the story if you still hold that position. The player was RECOMMENDED by the Boise coach, who attributed his disciplinary issues to homesickness and depression which resulted from said homesickness. Might want to keep up. http://goo.gl/qagF7B this article will help you.

          • Lane Weaver

            So your blaming Boise St correct?
            (The woman testified that she never told police or Boise State officials about the abuse.)

            Strait from your article David!

          • David

            I’m just using logic to refute all these accusations that Baylor would have received this information from Boise. Because if they did receive it from Boise, then Boise would in a pretty poor moral spot for recommending him. I’d be willing to bet that Boise didn’t know about the abuse, or they would have kicked him off the team, out of the school, and probably tried to get criminal charges brought upon him. The only person that deserves blame is Sam Ukwuachu.

      • JL Todd

        You are missing the point. When someone has issues with domestic violence – they need help. Not football. It is unclear whether Briles knew about his domestic violence problem when he was admitted to Baylor, but Baylor’s due diligence was weak at best. And worse, after Jane Doe was assaulted their lack of investigation into the matter was insulting at best – possibly criminal.

        • David

          Issue. That’s singular. He had one prior issue, that Petersen completely attributed (along with his other disciplinary issues) to his homesickness and depression caused thereby. Since this is a speculation game about what was said between Briles and Petersen, I speculate that Petersen expressed that the homesickness and depression would not be an issue at a school closer to his home. While we’re blindly accusing Baylor of its alleged carelessness about accepting the transfer, how about we reflect on the character it takes of a person to recommend the transfer. You must think Petersen is a scumbag too since you assume that breaking a window and yelling profanity is shows a direct correlation to sexual violence, yet still recommended the transfer.

          • Lane Weaver

            David, thanks to you, Baylor is free of any guilt associated to the Jane Doe incident. At least Boise kicked him out of the school, Baylor hid him for another year or should i say “did not play him in 2014” because of his future court trial.

          • David

            Bahahaha thanks to me? You seem to be a professional at attributing cause where it does not belong.

          • Lane Weaver

            And your a professional for not owning up.

          • David

            Boise didn’t kick him out. Ignorance is oozing out of your mouth with every breath.

          • Fredly

            “In that conversation, I thoroughly appraised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam’s disciplinary record and dismissal”

      • rockerred

        Okay. So he did not ‘win games.’ He was merely brought onto the campus for the purpose of winning games.

        (Pretty disingenuous defense,,,)

  • Malcolm Kass

    I don’t quite understand the second part of this story. I don’t think that Baylor ever said that he wasn’t kicked out of the program. And I think that while Peterson can kick him off the team, I dunno what a Dean of Student Conduct can really do outside of get the “all clear” from another school, which is the “Good Standing” tag. All of these schools have code of conducts, and its breadth is well outside of the academic realm. For instance, here is Boise’s that would be relevant to this…

    http://deanofstudents.boisestate.edu/scp-codeofconduct-section5/

    Its states that conduct matters and if the code of conduct was breached by bad behavior after the school investigation, i believe the student is not longer in Good Standing. Its not just academic. So Baylor did some things wrong, but I don’t know if this is one of them.

    • Malcolm Kass

      Here is Boise’s Good Standing defn.

      D. Good Standing

      The awarding of a degree from Boise State University is conditioned upon a student’s good

      standing with the University and satisfaction of all university graduation requirements. “Good

      standing” means the student has resolved any unpaid fees or acts of academic or behavioral

      misconduct and complied with all sanctions imposed as a result of any misconduct. Boise State

      University may deny the awarding of a degree if the student is dismissed from the university

      based on misconduct.

      from here
      https://deanofstudents.boisestate.edu/scp-codeofconduct-section2/

      So “Good Standing” is all Baylor really needs in this case, so the second part of this story probably needs to be redacted.

      • Paul Reddy

        This guy who raped the girl NEVER played a single down of football for Baylor. He sat out the 2014 year due to not being eligible under NCAA rules. He was going to be eligible to play in the fall. This is the biggest smear job I have ever seen done by Texas Monthly and they are experts at praising Democrats and UT while smearing Republicans. The rest of the press has followed like sheep because they are to lazy to investigate the whole true story.

        • Jed

          huh? he never played a down for baylor because he got in trouble again first.

          what is your point?

        • Lane Weaver

          WOW

        • Fredly

          Who brought him to town?

          • Paul Reddy

            Briles allowed him to come but look who was selling the deal. It was Petersen who clearly did not tell the whole story. Get off the Briles bashing.

      • Malcolm Kass

        I mean retracted, not redacted. Geez Malcolm.

  • Tim Son

    Interview with Sam’s HS coach this afternoon. Supports Briles’ comments entirely:

    Tony Heath
    I spoke with Pearland High football coach Tony Heath about former Oilers player Sam Ukwuachu about his story and his struggles in life, including Ukwuachu being convicted of felony sexual assault on Thursday.

    Here are my questions and his answers:

    (David Smoak) What are your thoughts about what you’ve heard, seen or read about Sam Ukwuachu the last week?

    (Tony Heath) It’s tragic, I have a son who is good friends with Sam, a lot of questions from former players who I’m communicating with, it’s a tough situation for all of us and those around him (Sam) and the victim and her family as well.

    (David Smoak) What were you told when Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football team?

    (Tony Heath) I was told the staff was very concerned about Sam being depressed and violent towards himself and their worries were for him, never once did they ever tell me he had struck or hit a female or had a violent encounter with anyone. I spoke with Chris Petersen during Sam’s redshirt freshman year about his depression and insubordination, but I haven’t spoken with Coach Petersen since. The communication I heard after Sam’s release was with the Boise State assistant coaches.

    (David Smoak) When did Art Briles contact you about Sam Ukwuachu?

    (Tony Heath) It was after Boise State had recommended him to Baylor and I told Art there were never any problems with Sam at Pearland High School, no discipline problems with him at all.

    (David Smoak) Have you read Art Briles’ statement about Sam Ukwuachu and the conversation he (Coach Briles) had with Chris Petersen?

    (Tony Heath) Yes, I have, and what Art said in his statement is exactly what I was told by the Boise State coaching staff and also shared that same information with Baylor’s assistant coaches.

    (Tony Heath) And, I don’t want to get involved in two university programs, but it’s a young man from my program. And, when we have student-athletes play at the college level, the coaching staff at each specific school keep me and others abreast of their progress, good or bad.

    (David Smoak) Were you ever told by anyone at Boise State about Sam Ukwuachu’s domestic violence issues?

    (Tony Heath) Never, I was told the same story in Coach Briles’ statement. And, in fact, I didn’t have any idea about Sam’s domestic violence with his girlfriend until this past Thursday. I would like to add, if I would’ve known Sam Ukwuachu or any of our players had any dometic violence in his past, here at Pearland or anywhere, I wouldn’t hide it and I would tell any coach who asked, to investigate him.

    (David Smoak) You’ve known Art Briles since he was a high school coach at Stephenville, and you competed against him when you were at La Marque, you knew him as the University of Houston and now Baylor, what’s to keep you from protecting him since he’s been under fire with this story?

    (Tony Heath) First of all, Art Briles doesn’t need anyone to defend him, his record as a coach and man speaks for itself. And, I don’t care who is questioning Art Briles, I have another player, Kendall Erlich at Baylor, Coach (Briles) is a man of great integrity and I trust my players in his program and I’ll reiterate, his comments about what he knew about Sam Ukwuachu are exactly what I was told when Sam was released by Boise State.

  • Greg Gardner

    So, when does the apology to Art Briles come out? And none of that “He should have known.” First, Boise State says they have no discilpine record and knew of no violence. Girlfriend confirmed she never reported. So how could Petersen “thoroughly apprise” Briles of things he didn’t know and didn’t happen? What Briles was told (all agree, no contradiction from Petersen) was a Houston kid goes to Idaho, feels out of place, breaks up with girlfriend, gets depressed. Makes sense. Briles checks with media reports and HS coach. They got same story. Was Briles supposed to contact NSA? Ukwuachu brought to Baylor with required counseling. Student Affairs investigation and status of scholarship was in the hands of lawyers, not the coach.

    • Fredly

      Marc Paul specifically mentions violence and that he warned Ukwuachu’s girlfriend not to go home. He says he told Petersen about it. Coach Petersen says he was “thorough” in the conversation with Briles. You think he would have left out Ukwuachu’s drunken, violent behavior?

  • Fredly

    Briles is lying, but the right wing fan base of Baylor only cares if he wins.

    • Paul Reddy

      That’s OK. Liberals only want to prove a point without letting facts get in the way. Right or left, examine the facts.

  • dormand

    If you would care to see how the strict Baptist approach to ethics is conducted when there is a gridiron performer involved, review this due diligence link:

    http://www.chaoswallpapers.com/view/see_no_evil_hear_no_evil_speak_no_evil___three_monkeys_photo-1024×768.html