Vandy rape suspect McKenzie removed from Alcorn State team - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Vandy rape suspect McKenzie removed from Alcorn State team

Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie

Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie, a former football player at Vanderbilt University accused in an alleged sexual assault in a campus dorm, has been removed from the team at Alcorn State after playing a game Saturday.

McKenzie is one of four former players who was dismissed from the Commodores and banned from campus after being accused of a sexual assault inside a dorm room at Vanderbilt.

McKenzie caught one pass for four yards in the fourth quarter of the Alcorn State Braves' 51-7 loss at Mississippi State on Sept. 7. He also returned three kicks for 80 yards. McKenzie is a native of Natchez, MS, about 35 miles southwest of the Alcorn State campus in Lorman, MS.

McKenzie, along with the other defendants Brandon Banks, Corey Batey and Brandon Vandenburg, had not guilty pleas entered on their behalf at a brief arraignment hearing on Aug. 21.

The four former players have been charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg has also been charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.

The players' court appearance for Sept. 19 has been reset to Oct. 16 before Judge Monte Watkins.

Banks, Batey, McKenzie and Vandenburg have been at the center of the investigation that began in June after a reported sexual assault in a Vanderbilt University campus dorm.

Vanderbilt officials then banned the four from campus and kicked them off the football team for what was called a violation of team rules.

Police said the investigation revealed the four allegedly raped an unconscious victim inside Vandenburg's room at Gillette House dormitory in the early morning hours of June 23.

According to the indictment, Vandenburg photographed the victim and distributed that picture.

Metro police detectives began investigating after they were notified by Vanderbilt University police, who said an unrelated situation captured by the dorm's hallway surveillance system revealed concerning behavior by the suspects.

NCAA rules allow student-athletes to transfer from a Football Bowl Subdivision school to a lower classification. Alcorn State plays in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the Football Championship Series. Tennessee State, Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech play in the FCS.

In a statement released late Thursday, Alcorn State University President M. Christopher Brown II, said:

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

Brown said the school will conduct a review the athletics department's policies, compliance procedures and personnel authorizations in response to McKenzie's addition to the football team Saturday.

Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson told The Associated Press earlier Thursday that McKenzie was playing football for the Braves because he believes the freshman is "100 percent innocent" of the charges.

The coach said he 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. "From everything I've gotten, from every resource, this kid is 100 percent innocent."

Hopson said McKenzie enrolled at the Mississippi school a couple of weeks ago but did not indicate if McKenzie was still enrolled in school.

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