Despite addressing the various allegations against Tennessee’s football program on several occasions, coach Butch Jones was asked about them again during a Monday press conference that signified the beginning of spring practice. Tennessee is facing an ongoing Title IX lawsuit that accuses the school of creating a “hostile sexual environment.”
Jones declined to answer a specific question about Drae Bowles. Jones was asked if he told the former Tennessee receiver that he “betrayed” the team for helping an alleged rape victim, as Bowles has asserted.
“I made a statement and I’ll stick with that statement,” Jones said. “I’d appreciate if you could keep it to spring football. Today, that’s what this press conference is all about.”
Jones released a statement of denial shortly after the accusation from Bowles was reported, and defended his character. Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said he trusted Jones “implicitly” when asked about the matter during a press conference last month.
The Title IX lawsuit would have surely been a much bigger topic had the Vols not addressed the situation publicly on a handful of occasions. It did, however, garner one other question about how to best create a culture where sexual assault is not accepted. Jones said he’s brought in several different speakers, including victims, to speak to his team.
“It’s all about personal growth and development,” Jones said. “It’s bringing different individuals in with different deliveries that really believe in the same thing, that have the same message.”
The lawsuit was filed in February and addressed a myriad of sexual assault issues over the past 20 years.
“We talk about making the right choices and the right decision every single day,” Jones said. “It’s like raising your family. All of us that have children, you understand. You try to raise them the right way … I think you’d be hard pressed to find any school that’s invested in that topic more than the University of Tennessee.”