Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday that the system for handling sexual assaults on college campuses is broken and, without naming him, used former Trojans kicker Matt Boermeester and USC's investigation into allegations against him, as an example.
DeVos outlined her plans to review some of the controversial Obama-era guidelines for investigating sexual assaults during a speech at George Mason University in Virginia. She included an anecdote about a "disturbing case in California" between an athlete and his girlfriend.
USC expelled Boermeester after a school investigation found he put his hands around the neck of his girlfriend, Zoe Katz, and pushed her into a wall. Katz said Title IX Office investigators ignored her assertion that Boermeester never abused her.
"The young woman repeatedly assured campus officials she had not been abused nor had any misconduct occurred," DeVos said. "But because of the failed system, university administrators told her they knew better."
USC disputed that account. The school filed a court document in August that said Katz had changed her story. The filing said Katz, referred to as "Jane Roe," initially confirmed the witnesses' version of events and reported she "often had bruises on her legs or arms from Petitioner because he would hit or grab her tightly when he was angry."
Boermeester, a hero in USC's Rose Bowl win against Penn State, is scheduled for a show cause hearing on Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, where a judge is expected to rule on whether to reverse his expulsion.
Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter @zhelfand