UK Men's Basketball

UK basketball notebook: A closer look at the Xavier case

Cliff Hagan (16) of the old St. Louis Hawks was guarded by Boston Celtics Bill Russell, left, and Tommy Heinsohn, right, in the NBA Finals on April 2, 1958, in St. Louis. The Hawks' victory that year is one of the "Greatest Sports Moments in St. Louis History."
Cliff Hagan (16) of the old St. Louis Hawks was guarded by Boston Celtics Bill Russell, left, and Tommy Heinsohn, right, in the NBA Finals on April 2, 1958, in St. Louis. The Hawks' victory that year is one of the "Greatest Sports Moments in St. Louis History." ASSOCIATED PRESS

A school expels an athlete because it decides he was involved in an alleged sexual assault. Within a week or so, other basketball programs, including Kentucky, express interest in adding the player.

Should such a scenario raise eyebrows?

Not according to Merlyn Shiverdecker, a Cincinnati-based attorney who represents Dez Wells. Shiverdecker has repeatedly ridiculed the hearing Xavier held in deciding to expel Wells.

Shiverdecker's contention got a significant boost from Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters, who reportedly called Xavier's decision-making "fundamentally unfair."

Deters announced early last week that no criminal charges would be filed against Wells. Deters, who attended the Republican National Convention, did not return a telephone message.

Before recruiting Wells, who was on the Atlantic 10 all-rookie team last season as a freshman, schools did background checks.

"I have received calls from coaches or coaching staffs from several universities," Shiverdecker said in a telephone interview. He suggested, without directly saying so, that he spoke with someone from UK.

Wells reportedly visited UK Wednesday and Thursday before leaving for Memphis.

In announcing that no charges would be filed, Deters expressed the hope that Xavier reconsider the expulsion of Wells.

Of Deters' comments, Shiverdecker said, "Dez Wells was cleared. He has been exonerated. We found no evidence to support any criminal activity. At all."

Based upon written statements by Wells, the woman involved and a transcript of the Xavier hearing, Shiverdecker described what happened as consensual rather than an assault. Earlier in the evening in question, Wells and a basketball teammate found themselves locked out of Wells' room. They went to the woman, who was a residence adviser, to get a key to Wells' room.

After attending a movie, Wells returned to his room. The woman called about 1 a.m. and asked if she and her friends could come to Wells' room, Shiverdecker said.

With three males and three females in the room, a game of Truth or Dare led to lap dances and a partial strip tease.

Wells said he and the woman then went to her room. She said she went with some reluctance.

"Two witnesses said they walked out together holding hands," Shiverdecker said.

Once in the woman's room, Wells and the woman engaged in foreplay and oral sex.

"She says at this point, she said, 'No,' for the first time," Shiverdecker said. "Dez says she never said 'No' to anything."

Wells' attorney said the woman did not appear distraught or upset when she returned to Wells' room to get a cellphone she'd left behind.

More than a week later, the woman charged Wells with a sexual assault.

"There was a hearing — and I use that term loosely — on Aug. 2," Shiverdecker said.

The Xavier Conduct Board, which was made up of two faculty members, two students and two administrators, found Wells responsible for "a serious violation of the Code of Student Conduct," the school announced.

That's when Wells retained Shiverdecker, who filed an appeal. Shiverdecker urged Deters to put the Hamilton County grand jury investigation into the incident on a fast track. The attorney expected a decision not to file charges against Wells, which could be part of an appeal. But Xavier, which had 20 days to consider the appeal, denied the appeal within a week, or well before the grand jury reached its decision.

"Convicted in a kangaroo hearing and (a decision) confirmed by three blind mice," Shiverdecker said.

In an appearance on Cincinnati radio station WLW, Deters questioned the fairness of Xavier's hearing.

"There is something seriously flawed with a procedure where a young man and his accuser appear before a group of people, which I would suggest probably isn't very well trained in assessing these types of cases," Deter said on the radio show. "And they sit there and tell their stories. No lawyers. Nothing. There's just something wrong with that."

Shiverdecker questioned the ability of the Xavier Conduct Board to make an informed decision on the legality of the sexual encounter.

The attorney described the hearing as "like throwing a football into a cage with a bunch of monkeys and saying, 'OK, go play football.' Well, you don't know what football is."

The board did not properly consider a hospital report that showed no signs of trauma for the accuser, Shiverdecker said.

In an Aug. 21 statement announcing a "serious violation of Xavier's Code of Student Conduct" and Wells' expulsion, the school said it would make no further comment.

Shiverdecker noted that on July 23, Xavier signed an agreement with the federal Department of Education promising to reform the way it handled cases of sexual assault. This followed a Department of Education inquiry into whether Xavier had discriminated against those filing such claims. As part of that investigation, the government determined that Xavier allowed one student to remain on campus and finish classes for the semester after being expelled for sexual assault.

As part of its agreement with the Department of Education, Xavier agreed to protect any suspected victims of sexual assault, regardless of the status of criminal proceedings.

Shiverdecker charged that Xavier made Wells "a sacrificial lamb for past sins."

Collins on Davis

Fresh from leading Kentucky to a national championship only four months earlier, Anthony Davis played sparingly for the U.S. Olympic team.

Doug Collins, a former Olympian who worked the Games as a television commentator, cautioned against drawing any conclusions.

"He's not lacking anything," Collins said of Davis. "When he was in the game, he performed."

Davis averaged a team-low 3.7 points and 7.6 minutes in the Olympics. He also averaged 2.7 rebounds.

In his one-season UK career, Davis led the team with averages of 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds. He became the first UK player to average a double-double since Kenny Walker in 1984-85 (22.9 ppg and 10.2 rpg). No UK player averaged more rebounds since Jim Andrews (12.4 in 1972-73).

To explain how a player as historically productive as Davis could be practically a walk-on for the U.S. Olympic team, Collins said, "Go backward in time. Ten years ago, that was what Tyson Chandler looked like. Tall. Lanky. It takes a while to get used to the 'physicality.'"

Collins lauded Davis a star in the making in terms of basketball savviness ("great instincts") and off-court maturity.

"All I heard about him was how he respected the guys who played before him," Collins said. "Each time I looked up (from the broadcast station), he was sitting beside LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant) asking questions.

"He was smart. He kept his mouth shut and his ears open."

Hail, Hagan

UK Hall of Famer Cliff Hagan will be honored Thursday as part of an event titled "Greatest Sports Moments in St. Louis History."

After an All-America career for UK, Hagan starred for the then St. Louis Hawks. He and another all-timer, Bob Pettit, led the Hawks to victory over the Boston Celtics in the 1958 NBA Finals. That marked the only time from 1957 to 1966 that the Celtics did not win the championship.

Hagan, who averaged 28 points in the 1958 finals, will be among several honorees present at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis. Others include Cardinals' shortstop David Eckstein, boxer Leon Spinks, Rams' linebacker Mike Jones (he made the game-saving tackle in the 2000 Super Bowl), Blues' wing Ron Schock, place-kicker Jim Bakken and the entire offensive line for the 1975 St. Louis Cardinals: Dan Dierdorf, Conrad Dobler, Tom Banks, Roger Finnie, Tom Brahaney and O-line coach Jim Hanifan.

Tickets for the event, which cost $75, are available at or by calling 1-888-627-3235 (ext. 707).

Proceeds benefit the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.

Kentucky boy

Kenny Davis, the captain of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team, grew up in Monticello in Wayne County. His father, Clyde, 90, continues to live in the house where Davis grew up.

In college, he played for Bob Davis at Georgetown. "The perfect place for me," he said.

A small college meant a better chance at a relationship with professors. Plus, Bob Davis featured guards in his offense.

Happy birthday

To Steve Masiello. He turns 35 today. ... To UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. He turned 53 on Monday. ... To Lukasz Obrzut. He turned 30 on Friday. ... To Morakinyo "Mike" Williams. He turned 24 on Wednesday. After transferring to Duquesne, he moved to The Citadel, where he averaged 2.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 2010-11. He played for Inter Bratislava in the Czech Republic last season. He signed to play for the Mersey Tigers in Liverpool, England, this coming season. ... To Bo Lanter. He turns 53 on Tuesday. ... To Jim Andrews. He turned 61 on Saturday.