By: Sabrina Brown ~Editor-in-Chief~
Xavier University has seen a significant amount of coverage the past week surrounding two unrelated legal cases involving former Xavier student athletes Dezmine Wells and Neil Henley.
Wells, a former men’s basketball player, was expelled from the university last fall for a violation of the student code of conduct. Henley, a former men’s soccer player, had his academic scholarship revoked by the university this summer.
This fall, Wells alleged 11 claims against Xavier and President, Fr. Michael Graham, S.J. Last week, the court dismissed a few of his claims, though most will continue through the court process. “The court dismissed two of the claims against both parties and one of the claims against Graham. That does not mean there was any finding against Xavier or Graham, just that the lawsuit will continue through the court process,” Xavier’s legal counsel Joseph Feldhaus said. “At the appropriate time, Xavier and Graham will make further motions to dismiss the remaining claims, as they are, in our reasoned view, without merit.”
Henley’s claim came to light last week as progress was being made in the Wells case, though the two cases are not directly related. Henley’s case alleges two primary claims: hazing at an off-campus party and being cleared to play prior to fully recovering from a concussion. Henley feels that the university should have prevented the alleged hazing and that playing before making a full recovery resulted in a second injury and inhibited his ability to focus on his academics.
“We take (hazing) very seriously and do not tolerate it. The allegations in this case were investigated by Norwood Police and Xavier officials and were found to be without merit.” Feldhaus said. “As to the allegations about concussion, Xavier has professional trainers who are fully licensed by the state and certified by their professional boards. We also have a concussion management plan that is standard for athletic programs throughout the U.S.”
The university stands by its decisions and is optimistic that the lawsuits will not negatively impact Xavier’s public image.
“I believe Xavier’s image is as strong as ever. Challenges are part of any organization. What’s important is how we manage and learn from challenges, always keeping in mind that the highest priority for Xavier is providing an excellent Jesuit education and college experience for our students,” Director for Strategic Communications Kelly Leon said.