The University of Idaho community is reeling after an eventful homecoming weekend, which resulted in the Vandal’s third win over Louisiana-Monroe in a packed and raucous Kibbie Dome. The 13-27 victory came with it the whispered potential for a 2016 bowl game, celebration by students and alumni alike..
..and the suspension of a key member on the team after a report of domestic violence.
Dezmon Epps, a senior wide receiver who has been credited with much of the Vandals success this year, was suspended indefinitely Monday morning after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. According to sources, Epps struck his girlfriend in the face following an argument at Stubblefields Bar and Grill in Pullman. While charges have not been filed, UI head football coach Paul Petrino took immediate action in the suspension.
Petrino has said that his biggest team rule is “to never lay hands on a woman” and is taking the allegations very seriously, according to a source close to the football team.
While the team is taking the accusations seriously, Epps may be reinstated depending on the outcome of the investigation.
The allegations come not only at a poor time for the football team, which has just begun to receive more support from fans following this year’s success, but at a time when activists hope to shed light on issues of abuse – National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
October is a month dedicated to recognizing many issues and ailments, domestic violence being one of the most prominent. Domestic violence surrounding athletes came to the forefront of the campaign in February of 2014 after footage of NFL star Ray Rice assaulting his then fiancé in an Atlantic City elevator surfaced.
According to No More, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and ending domestic violence, 12.7 million people are physically abused, raped, or stalked by a partner in one year. To put that number into perspective, victims equal out to about the population of New York City and Los Angeles…combined.
No More was launched in March of 2013, and has since enlisted numerous NFL stars to represent the campaign. Supporters include Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, and Eli Manning.
While Epps has not been arrested, many Vandal fans are calling for his dismissal from the team following the alleged incident. The 5’10, 170 lb. senior is no stranger to issues off the field, and was suspended for a game earlier in the season after he and a teammate stole about $400 worth of merchandise from the Vandal Bookstore in August.
Other run-ins with the law include driving without privileges, driving under the influence, and a 2013 petty theft incident. The attempted theft, which was later reduced to disturbing the peace, resulted in his dismissal from the team. Epps was reinstated on the team in the spring of 2015.
While Epps’ fate remains unknown, the incident can be used to bring attention to domestic violence not only surrounding athletes, but to college campuses everywhere.
Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse provides resources to those affected by domestic violence, including a 24-hour crisis line that can be reached at 1-887-334-2887 or at 1-509-322-HELP (4357). National resources are also available.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, the Odyssey encourages you to please seek help. If you are interested in volunteering for Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse, please visit http://atvp.org/DV_Action.html for more information.