Dorial Green-Beckham arrived at Missouri more than two years ago amid hype and fanfare, but Friday he was booted from the football team in disgrace.
The MU athletic department announced that Tigers coach Gary Pinkel, in conjunction with athletic director Mike Alden, had dismissed Green-Beckham after details of his role in an alleged burglary early Sunday morning were released Thursday by Columbia police.
“This decision was made with the best interests of all involved in mind,” Pinkel said in a news release. “Dorial’s priority going forward needs to be focusing on getting the help he needs. As we have all along, we will continue to do everything we can to assist Dorial and his family. We care deeply about Dorial and his well-being, but hopefully he can benefit from a fresh start.”
Alden said Friday at a news conference in Columbia that Green-Beckham remained a student but would not be able to return to the team. “We have a high standard of conduct for our student-athletes,” Alden said in announcing the dismissal.
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Perhaps the most high-profile recruit of Pinkel’s 14-year tenure, Green-Beckham was the nation’s top high school wide receiver when he signed with Missouri. Last season he led the team with 12 touchdowns and was seen as a NFL Draft prospect following his junior year with the Tigers this fall.
Green-Beckham, who turns 21 this weekend, was not arrested in the alleged burglary because the victims in the incident declined to press charges. The case was not sent to the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney for review, assistant prosecuting attorney Jessica Meredith told The Star on Friday.
“Our office, we don’t go forward and don’t consider any criminal charges unless information is supplied to us by law enforcement,” said Jonathan Bertz, a Boone County assistant prosecuting attorney. “That’s how it is with every case.”
It is possible, though rare, that police could forward a case to prosecutors even when victims decline to press charges. Columbia police said Thursday their investigation was complete, however, and the case was not forwarded.
Still, the details brought to light by the investigation played a role in Green-Beckham’s dismissal. According to a police report, Green-Beckham allegedly forced his way into an apartment, shoving one woman down at least four stairs.
The report also contained a text message from Green-Beckham’s girlfriend that said he “drug me out by my neck and hurt me,” though she later told police that she was not injured and left the apartment with Green-Beckham.
“It was very troubling to be able to see that police report and to be able to see those text messages going back and forth,” Alden said Friday. “But it was just that much more information that was able to be provided to us as coach was able to make that decision.”
Alden met with Pinkel and Green-Beckham on Monday. He was indefinitely suspended that afternoon.
Addressing an aspect of the Columbia police report, Alden said no football coaches contacted or attempted to influence any victims in the burglary case. A text message from the girlfriend to one of the women at the apartment said coaches had talked to her, but she later told police that she was relaying information that coaches had told Green-Beckham.
“We also looked into that and we talked with all of our coaches … and we were assured by all of our coaches that that did not take place,” Alden said.
Ultimately, Alden said it was Pinkel’s decision to dismiss Green-Beckham despite the absence of an arrest or charges. Mike Dixon Jr. was suspended and later left the MU basketball team in November 2012 after two sexual assault allegations were uncovered, though no charges were filed in either case.
“That still doesn’t mean they were appropriate actions,” Alden said of Green-Beckham. “For us, we want to be able to measure that against those values that we talk about whether there were charges in place or other types of flashpoints that may occur in the community.”
Green-Beckham cannot enter the NFL Draft until the spring of 2015 but could transfer to a Football Championship Subdivision or a Division II school this fall to play his junior season. Before he was dismissed Friday, a statement from Green-Beckham said he would seek counseling.
“First and most importantly, I take responsibly for my conduct and my mistakes,” he said in the statement, which was read to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by his father, John Beckham. “Don’t blame my girlfriend or her friends for anything. I am not looking for sympathy. I thank those who have given me concern.
“I have been young and dumb. I want to be better. … With help, I know I can be stronger emotionally and spiritually. My relationship with God, my family, friends, teammates and coaches are most important in my life, not football. It may not be possible to fix everything, but it won’t be for not trying.”
Beckham coached his son at Springfield Hillcrest and eventually adopted Green-Beckham and his younger brother, Darnell, who also plays wide receiver and signed with MU in February.
While he was not arrested in the alleged burglary, Dorial Green-Beckham was arrested twice for marijuana-related incidents during his two years at Missouri.
Green-Beckham and three teammates were arrested for misdemeanor possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana in a parking lot near Memorial Stadium in October 2012. All four later pleaded guilty to second-degree trespassing.
Three months ago, Green-Beckham was arrested on alleged possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a felony. He was riding in a car that was stopped for an expired tag in Springfield, and a search of the vehicle turned up nearly one pound of suspected marijuana.
Another passenger in the car said the marijuana was his, but charges remain pending as Springfield police await state lab results.
“That played into the decision,” Alden said of the arrests. “When you have a series of incidents over the course of the last year and a half with regards to one individual, certainly those aren’t things you can disregard. I think you’ve got to add all of those together.”
Alden said a group would be brought in this summer to review how MU handles student conduct in the wake of numerous incidents involving athletes. He also said he had met with all of the school’s coaches and athletes over the preceding four days to reinforce the values and expectations that come with being a Tiger, saying, “The logo never comes off.”
Seven Missouri football and men’s basketball players have been arrested eight times since January. MU chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said Friday that he had talked about the issues with Alden “quite a bit.”
“Over the course of the time that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen this concentration with a number of actions like this off the field,” Alden said. “I’m thinking it’s a coincidence, but we’re not going to step back and just think it is. That’s why we’re going to take a hard look and make sure we’re addressing it head on.”
Two weeks after Green-Beckham’s January arrest in Springfield, another wide receiver, Levi Copelin, was arrested for a misdemeanor peace disturbance after making threatening statements at the MU ID office. He has a May 9 court date.
Four Missouri athletes — football players Aarion Penton and Shaun Rupert and basketball players Wes Clark and Shane Rector — were arrested March 15 for alleged possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana.
Junior basketball player Zach Price was arrested twice on April 3 on suspicion of domestic assault and assault. The Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s office is still determining whether to file charges, but Price was kicked off the team Thursday by coach Frank Haith.
“Certainly, it’s been a challenging week,” Alden said. “It’s been a challenging couple months. It’s unacceptable. That is not the way we’re going to represent the University of Missouri.”
Alden doesn’t believe the athletic department has a cultural problem, however.
“The significant majority of our kids are doing amazing things — amazing things throughout this campus and throughout this community,” Alden said. “To be able to have the actions of a few individuals detract away from all those great things, that’s unfortunate and that should not take place.”