Football and domestic violence go hand in hand in the media these days. First, Ray Rice knocked out his then fiancee, now wife, Janay Rice and called into question the NFL's policy of handling domestic violence incidents. Next, Adrian Peterson switched his toddler son, leaving significant marks and resulting in his suspension.
You would think that younger athletes would look up to these professional football stars and learn that domestic violence is never a good solution. However, the issues at play in domestic violence are typically more deeply rooted than just mimicking the behaviors of their idols--and so, an Oklahoma State University football player and track-and-field sprinter finds himself arrested and dismissed from two sports after allegations of domestic violence.
Tyreek Hill, a junior running back and All-Big 12 player, was a standout in the Bedlam game between OSU and rival University of Oklahoma. After Hill tied the game with a 92-yard punt return, OSU went on to defeat OU in the rivalry game. Just five days after being celebrated by Stillwater, Hill was in jail.
Hill, 20, is accused of punching and choking his pregnant girlfriend in an argument that escalated to violence Thursday night. The woman said that Hill had a "volatile temper" and a history of "manhandling" her, but that he had never before been this violent with her. She said he punched her in the stomach and face and choked her, and that she was concerned about her unborn child after the blow to the stomach. Reports indicate she had a busted lip.
According to the police report, the woman had visible injuries to her neck, upper lip, left eye, and right cheek.
In general, domestic violence is a misdemeanor, but when choking is involved, the offense becomes a felony charge of domestic abuse by strangulation. According to court records, Hill is currently charged in Payne County with a single count of domestic abuse by strangulation, an offense which carries a sentence of one to three years in prison. His bond was set at $15,000, and he was ordered to have no contact with his accuser. His next court date is scheduled January 13.
After Hill was charged, Oklahoma State University officials confirmed that the athlete was released from both the football team and the track team. The university issued the following statement:
"Oklahoma State University does not tolerate domestic abuse or violence. Based on the evidence and the serious allegations that have been made, Head Football Coach Mike Gundy has announced that Tyreek Hill has been dismissed from the OSU football team. He also has been dismissed from the track team. The allegations are under investigation by Stillwater Police and by the OSU Office of Student Conduct. Those processes will proceed independently."
Obviously, domestic violence is not strictly a football problem; however, with these high profile cases, there could be a silver lining through increased domestic violence awareness and a clear message that domestic abuse has serious consequences.