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Sam Ukwuachu was suicidal, depressed at Boise State, asked to transfer

Larry Brown Sports logo Larry Brown Sports 8/26/2015 From Yardbarker
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By Larry Brown

Medical records show that Sam Ukwuachu was suicidal and depressed during his final months at Boise State, shedding new light onto the reasons why he was dismissed from the Broncos’ football team.

Ukwuachu was dismissed from the team in May 2013, months after he earned freshman all-american status for his performance in the fall of 2012. He transferred to Baylor after being let go at Boise State, and he raped a fellow Bears student in Oct. 2013. He was convicted of rape last week and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation.

Ukwuachu’s conviction has led to a controversy about why Boise State kicked him off the team; what coach Chris Petersen told Baylor coach Art Briles about the player; and why Baylor would bring such a troubled player into their school environment and football team. Boise State issued a statement on Tuesday to clarify that they never heard of any allegations of physical violence Ukwuachu may have committed against a woman during his time at Boise State, however, the reason for the dismissal remained unclear. BSU said they would not give the reason citing privacy laws.

Boise State did prepare a file on Ukwuachu that was used in the rape trial. The file shows that Ukwuachu met with a Boise State assistant athletic director on April 8, 2013 to go over a failed drug test and mental health issues.

ESPN has more:

Records indicate Ukwuachu was smoking Spice, or synthetic marijuana, to cope with his anxiety, particularly over his stuttering problem, which led him to have to suicidal thoughts. Ukwuachu was given prescriptions for Zoloft, an anti-depressant, and Risperidone, an anti-psychotic medication.

Ukwuachu was drug tested at least 20 times during his stint at Boise State, including 17 tests in 2012. At least four of those tests indicate they were not random and prompted by reasonable cause or suspicion.

Four days later Ukwuachu checked himself into a psychiatric/substance abuse facility to report suicidal thoughts. He told them he was planning to hang himself.

The assistant AD, Marc Paul, also met with Ukwuachu’s girlfriend in late April to discuss the relationship between the two students.

“We know there [are] issues [including] verbal abuse,” Paul wrote in his notes after their conversation. “She acknowledged arguments & name calling/yelling, etc., but refused to elaborate further. When asked if [she] would admit if physical violence occurs, stated [probably] not & quickly added ‘but he’s much better now & has it under control.'”

Ukwuachu’s ex-girlfriend testified at the rape trial that Ukwuachu beat her. However, she told Paul in their meeting that she wouldn’t say something if he were beating her.

On May 3, Ukwuachu and his girlfriend got into a fight over spilled Kool-Aid. Ukwuachu left to go spend the night elsewhere and had been talking about suicide. In an evaluation with a mental health expert the next day, Ukwuachu was diagnosed as having major depression. On May 4, Ukwuachu’s roommate called a Boise State coach to tell them the player was being suicidal again. That night Ukwuachu punched through a window.

ESPN says Ukwuachu texted Coach Petersen to tell him he wanted to transfer closer to home. Two days later Petersen dismissed him from the team.

Again, all these records clear up why Boise State let him go. They also seem to show the Broncos did not cover anything up as some suspected.

Below is the statement from Boise State regarding Ukwuachu’s dismissal:

“The incidents and factors that contributed to Sam Ukwuachu’s dismissal from the Boise State football team had nothing to do with accusations of any sexual assaults or with accusations that he physically assaulted any women. However, federal laws protecting privacy prohibit Boise State from releasing information about ​what did result in his dismissal from the Boise State University football team.

“Boise State University never received any reports nor had any knowledge of Sam Ukwuachu being involved in any accusations of sexual assault before or during his time at Boise State.

“In widely reported testimony from the Aug. 20 Texas trial, Ukwuachu’s former girlfriend stated Ukwuachu hit and choked her while they were students at Boise State. This information about their relationship was not reported to Boise State when the two were students here. While neither student is currently enrolled at Boise State, the University has requested a transcript of the testimony and will begin a Title IX inquiry immediately based on this testimony about a potential physically abusive relationship between the two former students. That inquiry, like all such inquiries, will not be subject to public records requests for privacy reasons.”

The questions in the case that remain include what did Petersen/Boise State tell Baylor about Ukwuachu. Even if he told them everything listed above, should Baylor be blamed for giving the former football star another chance? Given his mental status at the time, they probably should not have been pushing him to play football for them.

Sam Ukwuachu was suicidal and depressed at Boise State. © Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service Sam Ukwuachu was suicidal and depressed at Boise State.

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