North Texas

UNT Vice President Speaks Out About Prostitution Allegations Involving Former Basketball Players

For the first time, a University of North Texas administrator is speaking publicly about allegations of prostitution, drugs and sexual assault involving former members of the school's men's basketball team.

The university has already hired an independent law firm to look for any systemic problems in the basketball program.

Deborah Leliaert, UNT vice president for university relations, said they want the review to be as transparent as possible.

This is the latest in a string of high-profile sexual assault allegations involving a university athletic program. Schools like Baylor University have been criticized for not being transparent enough from the start when allegations surface. Now, UNT is trying to set itself apart with a quick response.

"When I originally heard it, I was in total disbelief," said UNT student Kyla Frank.

Two former basketball players and the team's student manager are tied to allegations of sexual assault, prostitution and drugs.

"We want our university community and others to know that we take these matters very seriously," Leliaert said.

Leliaert said the administration decided right away to bring in an outside law firm to look into the basketball program.

"It's a dive into the culture there, to ensure that there are no other issues or the issues don't remain," Leliaert said.

That's on top of the university police criminal investigation.

The team's former student manager, Brian Johnson, was arrested Wednesday, accused of arranging prostitutes for sex. His roommate, Rickey Brice, a former player, was also arrested and charged with marijuana possession.

University police have warrants out for alleged organized crime against another former player and a fourth man who's not affiliated with the university.

"The students who allegedly were involved are not allowed on our campus, they're not allowed to be on our campus right now," Leliaert said.

According to arrest warrant affidavits, it was a residence hall assistant who reported the alleged sexual assault involving prostitution. It all happened off campus, but how the university reacts is on the minds of students.

"It is very important because I notice at some schools, they respond very nonchalantly in cases like this, and I feel like they would take more action and show a little more passion and sympathy for these situations," said Frank.

Leliaert added, "It's important to have the trust of your community, it's important to know that we have zero tolerance for these kinds of activities."

The 2016-17 basketball season was over when the investigation started. One of the players involved is a senior, so his time with the team was up. The university says the other player had already decided to transfer and announced that shortly after the investigation began.

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