INDIANAPOLIS — Negative attention directed toward the University of Tennessee has created an echo.
Days after all 16 of the athletic program’s head coaches held a joint press conference to insist they have created a safe, enjoyable environment in Knoxville, former linebacker Curt Maggitt repeated their statements.
“There’s no culture problem at Tennessee,” he told reporters at the NFL combine Saturday.
Maggitt is one of several athletes named in various reports, affidavits and a recent federal lawsuit related to a rash of sexual assaults within Tennessee’s athletic program. His alleged involvement: Punching former teammate Drae Bowles, who allegedly aided a woman in bringing sexual assault charges against two former Volunteers.
The aforementioned lawsuit brought against the university includes that rape case and several others, with the plaintiffs labeling the program a “hostile sexual environment.”
Saturday, Maggitt told SEC Country he feels wronged.
“Anybody can make up a story and put your name in it,” he said. “Peyton Manning, for example. His name has been brought up. That’s 20 years ago. Whatever the case is, you can’t control who writes the story. The only thing I can control is the way I carry myself and my character.”
To clarify: Was he saying reports of his involvement were false?
“Without a doubt,” he said. “Without (people) knowing the facts and knowing what was going on.”
The linebacker has deleted all of his social media accounts, blaming “negative energy.” When NFL teams ask Maggitt about the case, he refers them to his lawyer. He’s standing behind Tennessee through it all.
“Some things haven’t gone the way that we would like on the field, off the field,” Maggitt said. “But I wouldn’t shy away from the university at all.”