The University of Oklahoma Let Joe Mixon Off Easy – Twice
This should be difficult for me. But it’s not. Just as I condemned the NFL’s Ray Rice for cold-cocking his baby mama, I condemn University of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon for cold-cocking a woman he apparently didn’t know. And just as I condemned the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell for how they handled the Rice case, I condemn OU, Coach Bob Stoops, Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, and school president David Boren for twice letting Mixon off easy.
The reason this should be difficult is that I grew up less than forty miles from Owen Field, where OU plays its home football games. As a small child I listened to OU games on the radio. That was during the Sooners’ historic 47-game winning streak, still the NCAA record. I truly believed that OU couldn’t lose because we hadn’t lost in my living memory. (And yes, the “we” in the previous sentence was knowingly and intentionally written because I AM a Sooner.) When, in November, 1957, OU lost 7-0 to Notre Dame, I was listening to the game as usual. I was devastated. Not only had the mighty Sooners lost, they were held scoreless for the first time in many, many years. I thought all that was impossible.
I am still an avid OU fan. It’s no wonder that I got my bachelor’s degree there. Nor is it a wonder that after service in the Navy, I returned to Norman and got my law degree at OU too. After graduation, I practiced law in Norman through three football seasons. I also served as an adjunct professor at OU’s law school. During all the years I lived in Norman, I never missed a home football game.
Considering how the University of Oklahoma was and still is ingrained deep in my heart, one might expect that I would be reluctant to write this castigation of one of its star players, its highly successful coach, its long-time athletics director, and its revered president. But I’m not reluctant. What’s right is right. What’s wrong is wrong. Violence against women is not just wrong, it’s abhorrent. For a public institution and its leaders to minimize violence against a woman is not just wrong, it’s abhorrent.
Let’s start by comparing the videos of Ray Rice and Joe Mixon knocking women out cold. Did you watch them? Which is worse? Two years later there was a second offense by Mixon, not on video, in which he tore up a parking ticket, threw the pieces in the face of a female parking attendant, cursed her, then “inched” his car at her to intimidate her.
I don’t know whether there were long-term effects from the Rice punch that left his girlfriend unconscious on the floor in the door of an elevator where Rice dragged her after knocking her out. It’s well documented, however, that the Mixon punch that knocked Amelia (Mia) Molitor unconscious caused multiple bone breaks. According to the Oklahoman, the largest paper in the state, “Molitor suffered several fractured bones in her face, leading to an eight-hour surgery and forcing the OU student to attend classes with her jaw wired shut.” The Oklahoman also reported that Molitor received hate mail and threats. USA Today columnist Christine Brennan called what Mixon did “one of the worst things a college football player has ever done.”
The knock-out blow was delivered by Mixon in late July, 2014. Charges were not filed until the middle of August, and Mixon’s first court appearance was on August 18. The same day, OU announced that Mixon was suspended for the season. By that time, the long-term effects should have been known by the university administration and coaches. The video certainly was. And that knowledge, especially the video, makes the actions of OU President David Boren shameful. The same goes for Coach Stoops and the athletic director. And not just the three of them; add the elected district attorney (chief prosecutor) and the county judge to the shaming. The Oklahoman reported their actions this way:
Earlier Monday [the day Mixon appeared in court after being charged], University of Oklahoma President David Boren, Castiglione and Stoops met with Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn in Mashburn’s office.
The three declined comment to The Oklahoma Daily as they left.
Mashburn, speaking in a radio interview with WWLS later in the day, said the three met with Mashburn to “make sure they had the whole story.”
At the hearing, Judge Steven Stice ordered neither side to show the surveillance video to anyone not directly involved in the case.
Here we have the president of the the university – let that sink in, the president of the university – going with the head football coach and the athletic director to visit the chief prosecutor to get the “whole story,” which no doubt included seeing the video. How often does a major college president get involved with a student’s arrest off campus? But having done so, Boren can’t hide from his having approved one of the University of Oklahoma’s most ignominious failures. What was the failure? Let’s start with the university’s official statement as it appeared on Twitter: