By: Sabrina Brown
Dezmine Wells, a former Xavier student athlete, was expelled from the university last fall for a violation of the Code of Conduct. Last Tuesday, Aug. 20, Wells filed a complaint against Xavier University and President, Fr. Michael Graham, S.J.
Despite his expulsion from Xavier, Wells was cleared by the NCAA to play at the University of Maryland last season and led the Terrapins in scoring with 13.1 points per game.
Wells’ complaint primarily takes issue with Xavier’s conduct and appeal process and the university’s statement announcing Wells’ expulsion.
Xavier has three weeks from the day the complaint was filed, Aug. 20, to answer the complaint. The university can respond in one of two ways: filing a motion to dismiss or answering the complaint.
If the university files a motion to dismiss and is denied or answers the complaint, the case will then move into the discovery process.
Discovery begins with the acquisition of documents, then continues to written interrogatories and depositions. Depositions and written interrogatories can be taken of any involved persons, including members of Wells’ conduct and appeal boards, and Xavier provides defense for any students whose involvement in the case may be requested.
Following discovery, if the case goes to trial, it will likely be 18 to 24 months from now.
The complaint outlines eight different claims for which the plaintiff (Wells) seeks relief.
The first claim is an alleged breach of contract. The complaint lists the Student Handbook as a “valid, binding and enforceable contract between Xavier and Wells.” Wells alleges that Xavier breached the contract through conducting an unfair hearing.
Wells then seeks relief for a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, alleging that Xavier’s actions were a direct cause of Wells’ “severe emotional distress.”
Claims four through six allege that the university was libelous in its treatment of Wells. The claims seek relief for injuries to Wells’ personal reputation and athletic and professional reputation, alleging that Xavier acted with reckless disregard/malice and libel per quod (libel because of circumstance).
The complaint then continues on to allege arbitrator’s partiality, suggesting that the university’s process was slated in favor of the other student involved.
The final claim for relief is arbitrator’s misconduct, alleging that the university refused evidence due to a partiality toward the other student. The university stands by its actions and is currently establishing a team of attorneys to represent Xavier and determine the university’s next step.
“We have read the complaint and the allegations of wrongdoing are unfounded and cannot be supported. The process used by the Xavier University Conduct Board applies to all of our students and is the standard used in American universities,” Graham said.
“After members of the Conduct Board reached their decision, the matter was considered and upheld in an appeal. The sanction for the offense was expulsion. The University has never revealed the specific charge against Dez Wells other than to say he was found responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The university will vigorously defend the process and the decision.”