Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
During a meeting with the media on Monday, San Diego State coach Brady Hoke and athletic director JD Wicker met with reporters and each read prepared statements addressing reports that three SDSU football players allegedly gang raped a 17-year-old girl at an off-campus party last year.
After reporters asked follow-up questions about the case, Hoke and Wicker abruptly got up from the podium and left the interview room.
Wicker later returned about 15 minutes after leaving to answer reporters’ questions, though Hoke declined. In their statements, both Wicker and Hoke cited the ongoing investigation as their reasoning for not answering questions.
“To be absolutely clear: We take allegations of sexual assault seriously, and do not support any actions or behaviors that cause harm to others,” Wicker said. “As husbands and fathers, Coach Hoke and I fundamentally agree on this: Under no circumstance would we ever support an environment that supports abusive behavior.”
After he returned to the room, Wicker denied that the school or program made any attempt to cover up the story “because it was football and we were having a successful season,” per Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press.
The school launched an investigation earlier this month, nine months after the woman, now 18, said the incident took place. She said she recalled being raped and assaulted by multiple men and has since filed a lawsuit naming former players Matt Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko.
Hoke similarly pointed to his status as a husband and father, and denied that the program had a “code of silence” to minimize exposure to the incident.
“What was purported to have happened should never happen. Ever. It shouldn’t happen to anyone. And what’s been important to us is that anyone who violates or violated the law or university policies, they’ll be held accountable,” Hoke said. “We preach accountability in this program, and as we have always said, we are committed to holding accountable students who violate the university’s policies.
“I’m a husband and I’m a father, and we deeply respect, believe me, and appreciate the women in my life. I can guarantee you that it’s intolerable for what has been reported. There’s no protecting anyone, we’re not here to do that. That’s part of being accountable. There’s no support or encouragement or a code of silence, and so we won’t compromise on that, we will hold ourselves and our community and our players to the highest standard.”