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The McKenzie saga spread to Alcorn State

The Tip McKenzie saga took a turn for the bizarre Thursday with the help of Alcorn State University.

The former Trinity Episcopal Day School standout has been charged with three other former Vanderbilt University football players with raping an unconscious Vanderbilt student in June. He has a court date set for Oct. 16 in Nashville.

This apparently didn’t deter Alcorn from deciding to add McKenzie to its football roster several weeks ago.

McKenzie even saw playing time last weekend when the Braves took on Mississippi State, returning three kickoffs for 80 yards and tallying one catch for 4 yards.

But attention was brought to the fact that McKenzie was on Alcorn’s roster Thursday, and Thursday evening, Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II said in a statement that McKenzie had been removed from the Braves’ roster until further notice.

“Alcorn failed to sufficiently examine the allegations against McKenzie before allowing him to participate in our football program,” Brown said. “In an effort to provide educational opportunities to a southwest Mississippi student, Alcorn State University made an error in judgment.”

But what exactly does Brown mean when he said the school “failed to sufficiently examine the allegations” surrounding McKenzie? It hasn’t exactly been a secret as to what charges he’s facing.

Vanderbilt dismissed him from its football team in late June. It’s now mid-September. The information has been floating around for months.

Apparently, the fact that McKenzie is being charged with rape didn’t deter Alcorn initially. According to an Associated Press story, Braves head coach Jay Hopson cleared McKenzie’s arrival with the school’s athletic director and Brown.

“If I ever find anything or if I can get any proof that he is guilty, he will be suspended from our football team,” Hopson said prior to Brown’s announcement that McKenzie was removed from the roster. “From everything I’ve gotten, from every resource, this kid is 100 percent innocent.”

That’s quite a claim, especially considering the magnitude of what McKenzie is being charged with.

I hope and pray that McKenzie, who was a local star that had the chance to represent our community at the SEC level, is innocent.

But if you’re going to allow him on your team, you’d better know beyond a shadow of a doubt he’s innocent.

Apparently, Alcorn’s decision makers weren’t quite so certain, judging by their decision Thursday night. But given that Hopson, the athletic department and Brown are alleged to have all approved his initial instatement to the team, it’s quite curious that McKenzie’s playing privileges would be revoked only after the media caught wind of his enrollment.

Did Alcorn not realize that McKenzie being on the roster would eventually draw attention? If so, that’s an incredible lack of foresight by the decision makers.

This whole thing has left Alcorn with egg all over its face, and the football program could really do without the negative attention.