Memphis police opened an investigation last week into Robert “Bobby” Dodd, a former president and chief executive officer of the Amateur Athletic Union, on the heels of an ESPN report that he sexually abused two of his players in the 1980s.
In response to the ESPN report, the AAU released a statement noting that Dodd is currently fighting colon cancer and would not be returning to his positions with the AAU.
“The AAU has recently been made aware of some serious allegations about President Robert W. ‘Bobby’ Dodd, dating back several decades,” read the statement, from Louis Stout, acting AAU president. “The AAU has opened an independent investigation into these matters and also has contacted local law enforcement in Memphis, where the activities allegedly occurred. We will actively cooperate with any and all authorities to determine the facts and the truth.”
The ESPN story, published late last Friday, was based on the allegations of two players who said Dodd would touch them inappropriately, sometimes masturbating in their hotel rooms while they slept.
One player, who spoke to ESPN anonymously, accused Dodd of providing him alcohol and said he was almost certain that Dodd drugged him on at least one occasion.
They said the sexual abuse occurred between the ages of 12 and 16, when they were players for a Memphis-based AAU team that Dodd ran. According to ESPN, Dodd was still running AAU teams in Memphis before these allegations surfaced last week.
The AAU, founded in 1888, has served more than 500,000 youths in its 100-plus year history, according to the organization’s website.
Stout, the interim president, released another statement the day after the ESPN report went online, saying that the organization would undergo an independent review of its safeguards and screening measures for staff members.
“AAU has a proud and strong track record of providing safe and positive youth programs in communities throughout the country,” Stout said. “But, as appropriate, we are going to enhance any of our policies, procedures, and practices—as recommended by this expert review—to ensure the safety of all of the young people in our programs.”
Dodd did not respond to ESPN’s multiple attempts to contact him before the release of its report on Friday. He had still not offered an official statement on the matter, as of Monday morning.
If these accusations turn out to have merit, they’re just as stomach-churning and heartbreaking as the ones against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine that emerged in recent weeks.
One has to wonder, at this point, if the Sandusky allegations won’t end up being a turning point in abuse reporting cases against sports coaches.
If nothing else, the wave of these scandals in sports has some states reconsidering the severity of their child-abuse reporting laws.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.