Student athlete suspended following rape investigation


Willie Brown | Contributor

Former Lions cornerback Deon Price watches the Lions take on Central Missouri during the homecoming game Oct. 4 at Fred G. Hughes Stadium. Price did not play during the game due to an ongoing campus rape investigation for which he was the only suspect.

Dean of Students closes sexual assault case

Missouri Southern football player Deon Price was dismissed from both the team and the school on Oct. 23. Price was under investigation for an alleged rape that happened in Mitchell Hall on Sept. 28.

The Jasper County Prosecutor’s office will not be filing criminal charges against Price, according to University Police Chief Ken Kennedy, but Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator Ron Mitchell conducted a separate investigation that concluded on Oct. 23, the same day as Price’s dismissal. County prosecutor Dean Dankelson did not return repeated phone calls.

Mitchell did not specifically say Price was expelled because of the violent sexual assault, citing FERPA laws dealing with student privacy. He did describe how this particular suspension would work.

“In most situations we suspend students and allow them to reapply, but we still have the discretion to not allow them in,” said Mitchell.

Price had been a healthy scratch from the team since the incident happened — standing on the sideline in street clothes during games and remaining on the roster. Price continued attending class until the school’s investigation was complete.

Price was a junior college transfer from Cisco College in Cisco, Texas, and was in his first year at Southern. During his time at Cisco College, Price was arrested for disorderly conduct and fighting, a class C misdemeanor in Texas. According to a police report obtained from the Stephenville Police Department in Stephenville, Texas, Price and six others were arrested for fighting on Sept. 8, 2013.

“One subject later identified as Deon Price appeared to be the primary aggressor in the situation and appeared to be striking the other two males more than they were him,” stated Officer Jeff Walker in the report.

The last week Price played for Southern, he was named the MIAA conference defensive player of the week. The athletics department, which had declined to comment on the situation while Mitchell’s investigation was ongoing, offered a statement Wednesday about the standard to which student athletes are held.

“Participation in athletics is a privilege, not a right; and with this privilege comes additional responsibilities in the form of time commitments, physical demands and public visibility,” said Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman. He did not specifically comment on Price.

Looking forward, school administrators have begun planning sexual assault prevention methods for the future.

“We think that we are on the right track,” said University President Alan Marble. “It’s going to take education … I have heard it said that you have to inform before you can reform and I think that is true.”

Mitchell and his office are looking at having educational training for students up and running by the fall.

“This year, we have presented the letter of the law,” said Mitchell, referring to revised policies on sexual assault and related issues. “Next year we want to lay out the spirit of the law and provide students with educational training.”

Contacted by phone, Price declined to comment other than citing the prosecutor’s decision not to press charges. The reported victim could not be reached for comment.