The University of Kentucky was named in an extensive piece by USA Today that investigated sexual assaults by college athletes, primarily focusing on those who were disciplined, transferred and still allowed to participate in college athletics.
The NCAA does not restrict eligibility for student-athletes who have been convicted of sexual assault. USA Today found that since 2014 there have been 28 student-athletes who have played for a program after being administratively disciplined for a sexual offense at another college. One of those is a former Kentucky Wildcat.
Tanner Blain arrived on Kentucky’s campus in 2012. The walk-on punter redshirted in his first season. Eligible to play as a redshirt freshman in 2013, he never played a down for the Wildcats.
In the spring of 2014, a female student told UK police she was sexually assaulted by Blain at a party. The incident did not result in criminal charges, but the university suspended him for two years after they found responsible for rape. Details released by the university to USA Today are sparse.
The university provided few details about the incident and redacted a campus police report almost entirely, saying it contains private information.
The report details the victim’s “efforts to fight (off) her attacker … her friends’ efforts to help her while the incident was ongoing,” and how the victim “escaped from her attacker and the private residence where the attack took place,” the university told the Kentucky Attorney General’s office in defense of its redactions against an appeal by the USA TODAY Network. The agency upheld the university’s redactions.
Blain did not respond to USA Today’s request for comment and his father denies any wrongdoing.
Blain transfered to El Camino College in Torrance, Ca. After one season in junior college, he signed with San Diego State. He was the Aztecs’ starting punter for two years, earned a spot on the Ray Guy Watch List and won consecutive Mountain West Conference titles.
When Blain signed with SDSU, the school had no knowledge of the prior incident in Lexington, a school spokesperson told USA Today. Background checks at the JUCO level and at UK produced zero red flags. Kentucky spokesperson Jay Blanton said it “was simply a mistake” when they returned Blain’s form to SDSU and did not disclose the sexual assault suspension.
The university’s student conduct office is required to notify its athletics department if an athlete is involved in a disciplinary proceeding, but that didn’t happen in Blain’s case, Blanton told USA Today. This procedure is now standardized in the NCAA’s transfer portal.