Frank Shannon's lawyer says the Oklahoma linebacker is innocent of sexual assault, and she believes coach Bob Stoops should allow her client to play in Saturday's opener against Louisiana Tech.
No charges were filed against Shannon, but the university decided to suspend him for a year after a Title IX investigation. A district court judge court blocked the school's decision, and the school has appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Shannon is eligible to play while the court waits to make a decision, but Stoops said this week that Jordan Evans would start in his place because the situation is unresolved.
Lawyer Aletia Timmons said Friday that Shannon does not expect to play for the fourth-ranked Sooners on Saturday, and she said she has "reason to believe that the university has asked that he be removed from the depth chart and he not be allowed to play." Shannon was the team's leading tackler last season.
"The university and Bob Stoops have the ability to put him on the field right now," she said. "They are not precluded from doing that. This is a voluntary decision they have made which I do not agree with. And so, they can put him on the field right now. This lawsuit is not holding them from doing that."
Timmons said Shannon's accuser was upset because Shannon would not have sex with her, and he passed a polygraph test regarding the incident. Timmons believes the school is going overboard to protect themselves so Oklahoma doesn't lose Title IX funding.
"It's my belief that my client, even though there's ample evidence that he should be left alone and this should never have proceeded to the level it did, is being scapegoated so that OU won't have to face any questions about how they run the Title IX program," Timmons said. "That has been done without any regard to the truth or falsity, I believe, of the alleged victim's statements."
An Oklahoma spokesman said Friday that the university had no comment on Timmons' statements. Timmons said she felt it was time to speak up because Oklahoma made a public statement on the matter earlier this month.
"It appears at this point in time that he's (Shannon) the only one that's standing up for himself, and I would include the football coaches in that," she said. "And I hate to say that. He feels a little differently; I don't. They teach our kids to fight hard on the field, never give up, and they've been supported for the most part, and all of a sudden when it gets hot, they're gone. So I have a problem with that. You can't teach what you don't model."
Regardless of what happens in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, more lawsuits could follow.
"I can't tell you if we've talked about it," Timmons said. "I'll just say this is not going to be the end of the fight."