Vanderbilt confirmed Monday that the four players under investigation by the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit will not be on this year’s team.
In a university release, Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune said, “Brandon Banks, Cory Batey, Jaborian ‘Tip’ McKenzie and Brandon Vandenburg will not be a part of the 2013 roster, based on a violation of team rules as announced on June 29.”
The university, which has not previously named the players, was in a bind. Because of the release of the 2013 media guide this week, the four players — who will not appear on the roster — would have been identifiable by their omission.
Head coach James Franklin also released a statement.
“For student athletes at Vanderbilt, it is a privilege, not a right, to be a part of the program. My coaching staff and I make sure every member of our team understands that. We insist on high standards of personal responsibility and integrity, and there are consequences when those standards are not met.
"In dealing with this matter, the Commodores football team will continue to hold itself to the same high standards of responsibility and integrity Vanderbilt demands of all of our students.”
All four players were recruited by third-year coach James Franklin’s staff. None has played in a game for Vanderbilt. Three are redshirt freshmen — Banks, Nashville native Batey and McKenzie — while Vandenburg is a junior college transfer.
Banks, 19, is a 5-foot-10, 165-pound defensive back from Brandywine, Md. He was rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, ESPN, Scout.com and 247Sports. His brother, Maurice, played collegiately at Georgetown before stints in NFL Europe and the Arena Football League. His other brother, Andrew, played at Middle Tennessee State from 2007-11.
Batey, 19, is a 6-foot, 205-pounder who switched from wide receiver to safety this spring. He helped Ensworth High School to consecutive Division II-AA state championships in 2010-11. He also received three stars from all four recruiting services. He was one of Franklin’s earlier commits for the 2012 class. In July of 2011, he joined highly touted prospects running back Brian Kimbrow and defensive end Caleb Azubike, and verbally committed to Vanderbilt at a press conference at D1 Sports Training Complex in Franklin.
McKenzie, 18, is a 5-8, 175-pound wide receiver from Natchez, Miss. He was rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com but received two stars from ESPN and 247Sports. In the spring game in April, he led all receivers with 83 receiving yards on four catches. He also had a 49-yard touchdown reception and hauled in a two-point conversion. Though Vanderbilt has five incoming freshmen wide receivers, McKenzie was expected to be in the mix for one of the reserve spots.
Vandenburg, 20, is a 6-5, 255-pound tight end from Indio, Calif. He was ranked as the third-best junior college tight end, according to Rivals.com. He received four stars from ESPN and was a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com. He played in five games at the University of San Diego as a freshman in 2011 before transferring to College of the Desert Community College in Palm Desert, Calif. He was named the team MVP last year after making 24 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns.
He is the first junior college transfer at Vanderbilt since former quarterback Jordan Rodgers arrived in 2010. According to rivals.com, Vandenburg had offers from six Southeastern Conference schools, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas A&M. He figured to battle for a starting spot or extended playing time.
The Metro Nashville Police Department released a statement Monday evening saying that its investigation continued.
“Sex Crimes cases such as this take time and involve interviews with a number of persons and evidence analysis by police department electronics experts and TBI scientists who specialize in DNA,” the statement read. “It is not uncommon for initial evidence analysis to provide detectives with additional detail that requires further investigation."
The release continued, “The police department remains in close contact with the District Attorney’s Office. No charges have been placed at present.”