On Thursday, Dec. 12, USA Today published an in-depth report detailing how college athletes being investigated for sexual offenses have been able to transfer to other schools in order to continue their playing careers.
Jahrie Level, a former wide receiver on the Stony Brook football team who transferred from the University of Idaho in the midst of a sexual assault inquiry, was amongst the players named.
Level spent two seasons as a member of the Seawolves from 2013 to 2014, playing in 19 games while recording 363 receiving yards and zero touchdowns. He became the subject of an assault investigation at Idaho in May, 2013. On Jun. 10, 2013, Stony Brook announced that Level, the Idaho Vandals’ third-leading receiver in the season prior, had joined the team.
“His best attribute is that he has a great head on his shoulders,” Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said in a press release.
The Idaho investigation into Level’s assault was completed on Oct. 7, 2013, and the University Judicial Council (UJC) ruled that “more likely than not… [Level] engaged in sexual harassment, sexual violence, gender-based harassment and intimidation, undertaken knowingly.”
“We speak with coaches and administrators at the former institution(s) of all transfer student athletes,” Stony Brook University said in a statement published by USA Today. “In accordance with our process, these conversations occurred prior to Jahrie Level transferring to Stony Brook and no disciplinary history was reported.”
Idaho diver Mairin Jameson reported to the police on April 23, 2013, that Level had assaulted her, alleging that he had put his fingers up her skirt and rubbed her underwear at a bar after weeks of inappropriate touching and verbal harassment. In addition, Idaho distance runner Maggie Miller reported that on April 8, Level threatened to “slap the s—” out of her after she had rejected his invitation to a barbecue. Altogether, Level’s case included seven total violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
Level was also involved in a police incident on Nov. 27, 2012, when he was cited for providing vodka to multiple underage students. This included a woman who was taken to the hospital with a blood alcohol content of 0.36, neck and knee bruises, back scratches and no recollection of the last two hours. Although the police concluded that the neck bruises were hickeys from consensual acts with Level, the woman still reported the incident to the Idaho dean of students’ office.
Although the UJC suggested that the University of Idaho alert Stony Brook about Level’s behavior, Idaho head coach Paul Petrino admitted that he never did so. By the time the investigation was completed, the Stony Brook football season was already five games in.
“To my knowledge, Stony Brook never contacted any of our coaches,” then-Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear said. “They did have a transfer-eligibility questionnaire. The one question is, ‘Was this student suspended for any reason from the institution?’ At that point in time, he was still a student in good standing.” Spear’s mishandling of the case cost him his job in 2018.
Level did not remain out of trouble once he arrived at Stony Brook. During his senior season, he was arrested for obstructing someone’s airway, but the case was sealed after charges were dropped. Following his playing career, Level was also arrested twice in Florida, his home state, on felony charges of grand theft and carrying a concealed firearm, but both were dropped.
Former Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley served on the NCAA Board of Governors in 2018 when the Big Sky Conference proposed a policy that required all student-athletes to disclose investigations into serious misconduct on an annual questionnaire. Stanley and the rest of the board came to the conclusion that the proposal only needed to be explored, and killed further discussion of the matter.
A situation somewhat similar to Level’s has recently arisen for the Seawolves. Back on Nov. 20, 2019, former Maine running back Ramon Jefferson announced on his Twitter that he had received an offer from Stony Brook. Jefferson, who rushed for 1,037 yards in 12 games as a freshman, left Maine in June 2019 after he pled guilty to criminal mischief; he was originally charged with misdemeanor domestic violence as well. Jefferson ultimately signed with Sam Houston State to continue his Division I career.
Though Level is long gone from the program, the conversation about overlooking off-the-field misconduct for talent remains relevant.