Report: USM's Hopson Failed to Disclose Player's Priors

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University of Southern Mississippi head football coach Jay Hopson reportedly did not inform athletic department officials about rape accusations against a junior college transfer student Hopson signed in January.

Thursday's report by The Athletic, cited by the Gulfport Sun Herald, comes in the aftermath of Hopson's controversial efforts this week to hire to his staff disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. Amid public backlash, USM officials took Briles out of the running Wednesday.

According to The Athletic, Charles West was previously accused of raping two women at knife-point in separate incidents in 2015, a fact that was not shared with athletic department officials and not included on West's admissions application. USM officials were not aware of the accusations against West until an athletic department employee came across a Dallas Morning News article on the rape allegations, according to The Athletic. He is not a student at the school.

The alleged attacks took place in February and March of 2015, and both cases were later downgraded to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors and West agreed to plea deals that allowed him to enter probation that wonā€™t lead to a conviction as long as he avoids trouble for four years. However, if he violates the terms of his probation, West faces up to 20 years in prison.

Hopson's seeming willingness to give players and coaches second chances is further outlined by The Athletic, which mentions two players the coach courted while leading the Alcorn State program from 2012 to 2015. Defensive end Jamil Cooks transferred to Alcorn State for the 2014 season from the Air Force Academy, where he was court-martialed for sexual assault. Jaborian McKenzie pleaded guilty to a charge of facilitation of aggravated rape in May 2018 after he was tied to a sexual assault case involving fellow Vanderbilt football players.

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