The Miami Hurricanes have permanently dismissed its linebackers, Alex Figueroa and JaWand Blue, while the University and local law enforcement investigate the pair’s sexual assault of an underaged female student.
The attack happened in the early hours of Saturday, July 5, in a dorm room on Ponce De Leon Boulevard. The female student reported the rape to the university police and the linebackers were arrested on Tuesday morning.
Figueroa and Blue confessed, when arrested, to buying several alcoholic drinks for the young woman, and then taking her back to a dorm room. The reports claim that Figueroa and Blue admitted to raping their physically helpless victim.
The linebackers, both 20, were charged with sexual battery on Tuesday. Alex Figueroa also faces a charge of possessing a forged or stolen driver’s licence. Bond was set at $10,000 for Blue and $15,000 for Figueroa. Neither man has a listed attorney at this time.
According to NBC Miami, the University of Miami has barred the linebackers from campus facilities, suspending them from school while an internal investigation is conducted. The school is cooperating with Coral Gables law authorities, according to UM President, Donna Shalala.
The Director of Atheletics, Blake James, issued a statement when the sophomore linebackers were dismissed from the team.
“Any allegation of a sexual assault is extremely serious, and the University will not tolerate conduct that threatenes the sanctity and safety of our students and our campus. We hold all of our students–especially student atheletes–to the highest standards of moral conduct.”
A starting linebacker for the UM team, Alexander Figueroa started twice last season and was considered to be a source of encouragement for his team mates; the sophomore was a recruit from Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia who played in nine UM games last season, finishing the season with 17 tackles.
From Brooke Pointe, Virginia, linebacker Figueroa came to attention in 2012 when he signed to the UM football team amid excitement from the coaches, who recognized his dedication to the sport.
From Florida, JaWand Blue was the backup linebacker for the Hurricanes and had yet to prove himself, being scarcely used during the 2013-14 season.
The loss of these two players puts a hardship on the university team. The Hurricanes’ coach, Al Golden, has few players who can pick up the position and carry it for the 2014-15 season.
The backlash has already started but, as of yet, it’s tame and sympathetic to the university. Figueroa’s player’s page at Hurricane Sports has been left blank. University of Miami fans, disgusted and disappointed at the two linebackers’ behavior, have reached out on social media sites such as Twitter, to express their feelings.
Fan response ranges from horror at the actions of student atheletes to sympathy and prayers for the victim. And some commenters have even pointed out that Virginia Tech, who was once interested in JaWand Blue, might have dodged a bullet with the linebacker’s enrollment at the University of Miami.
The general consensus seems to be, however, that the University of Miami has handled this in a quick and appropriate manner. With sexual assaults becoming an epidemic issue for universities across the United States, this comes as a relief and, for UM’s reputation, a smart move where the fans are concerned.
Both student atheletes, previously slated for respectable futures in college football, have ruined their futures in the sport with a reprehensible act that could destroy not only their lives but the life of their teenaged victim. But with the removal of the linebackers from university classes and the playing field, the Miami Hurricanes can now buckle down to the approaching season.
Minus their starting linebackers.
[Image Courtesy of 247sports]