During a conference call with the football team in late June, head coach Tony Reno announced that Kyle Mullen, the captain at the time, would not return to Yale this fall. Reno explained that Mullen had withdrawn for “personal reasons” and urged players not to ask Mullen about why he had left, according to two members of the team.
What Reno did not tell the team was that Mullen withdrew from Yale this summer in the midst of a pending investigation by the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct of an allegation that he committed “sexual penetration without consent,” according to two sources familiar with the situation. A Yale College student levied this allegation against Mullen last semester. But Mullen, who would have been a senior this year, left before it was adjudicated by the UWC.
As news spread that Mullen had left the team, Yale Athletics administrators initially remained reluctant to announce or confirm his departure until late August — 24 days before the team took the field for its fall season opener. Though Reno had told team members about Mullen’s departure two months earlier, the team roster on the Yale Athletics website did not reflect Mullen’s absence until late August, after the pre-season had begun.
A description of a formal Title IX complaint in Yale’s most recent semiannual Title IX report documented the allegation of sexual assault against Mullen, according to the two sources familiar with the allegation. The semiannual Title IX report includes all complaints filed between Jan. 1 and June 30.
“A [Yale College] student alleged that another [Yale College] student engaged in sexual penetration without consent and violated the no-contact order in place between the parties during the UWC proceedings,” reads the description of the complaint against Mullen in the report. “The respondent withdrew from the university with the disciplinary charges pending, a fact that is noted on the respondent’s transcript. The respondent is ineligible for reinstatement, re-enrollment, or a Yale College degree until the case has been adjudicated by the UWC.”
Mullen did not respond to multiple requests for comment this week, including five phone calls, three text messages and an email.
Asked when he found out about Mullen’s withdrawal and whether he was aware of the pending UWC investigation, Reno declined to comment. Reno also declined to comment on how he notified the team of Mullen’s withdrawal and whether he organized a team conference call announcing the former captain’s departure.
“I have no comment about Kyle,” Reno wrote in an email to the News. “I am focused on preparing Team #146 for The Game this week. Roll Dogs!”
Director of Sports Publicity Steve Conn, Director of Athletics Vicky Chun and Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun also declined to comment. University President Peter Salovey did not respond to request for comment.
When word spread in August that Mullen was no longer a part of Team 146, administrators were slow to confirm his withdrawal to the News. The News first contacted Conn about Mullen’s absence on Aug. 20, almost two months after Reno had informed the football team that Mullen would not return. During an Aug. 21 phone call, when asked about Mullen’s status on the team, Conn directed the News to the football roster on the Yale Athletics website. At the time, Mullen was still listed as the captain of the football team.
Later that evening, Conn emailed the News to confirm that Mullen was no longer a member of the team, but he did not comment on whether the captain had withdrawn from the University. The next day, Assistant University Registrar Michael Corsetti confirmed to the News that Mullen was no longer enrolled at Yale.
On Tuesday, Conn declined to comment on whether the Athletic Department was aware that Mullen faced a pending UWC investigation at the time of his departure.
Of nine members of the football team contacted by the News about this story, five declined to comment on Mullen’s withdrawal. Four football players told the News that when Reno announced Mullen’s withdrawal for personal reasons, they were unaware of the allegation of sexual misconduct levied against him.
One team member told the News that all football players must request permission from Conn before speaking to the media about the team. During preseason, all players agree to abide by this policy, he said. Conn did not respond to request for comment on Tuesday afternoon as to whether members of the football team must obtain his permission before speaking to the media.
Mullen is not the first athlete to come under public scrutiny for an allegation of sexual assault. In January, the News reported on an allegation of sexual assault against Luke Persichetti, then a member of the men’s track and field team, as well as a former president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Yale suspended Persichetti in March 2017 after finding him responsible for “penetration without consent.” One year earlier, Yale expelled former basketball captain Jack Montague for the same offense, weeks before the team won its first NCAA March Madness bid in over 50 years.
At Yale, Mullen was also a member of DKE — a fraternity that faced intense scrutiny this year following public allegations of sexual misconduct against its members. In February, Chun announced that Yale Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer would conduct a review of “recent concerns brought forward alleging a hostile sexual environment” at DKE. The investigation is still ongoing.
A spokesman for Yale’s DKE chapter declined to comment for this story.
Mullen, a defensive lineman, left behind a team coming off a historic Ivy League championship win. He was named captain of Team 146 last November, two days after the football team defeated Harvard, clinching the outright Ivy League championship for the first time in 37 years. Mullen started all 10 of Yale’s games and earned second-team All-Ivy recognition during the 2017 season. As a sophomore, Mullen led the Bulldogs with six sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.
Three days after Conn confirmed Mullen’s withdrawal to the News, team members elected Nicholas Crowle ’19, another defensive lineman, as their new captain during preseason training. Without Mullen and several of last year’s seniors, Team 146’s defense has struggled to contain opposing offenses.
With three years on the team under his belt, Mullen still has one year of NCAA eligibility to play for another college or university. The NCAA does not outline a policy that would prohibit athletes who have been accused of or found responsible for sexual misconduct from competing at other schools, according to the organization’s website.
Moments after being elected team captain last November, Mullen expressed enthusiasm about his final season with the Bulldogs in a statement to Yale Sports Publicity.
“I love every one of them and I’m very excited for what we have to come,” Mullen said. “We have a great team right now, obviously we’re headed in the right direction and hopefully we will continue that.”
On Saturday, Team 146 will take the field for the annual Yale-Harvard game in Boston.
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Correction, Nov. 14: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Team 145’s Ivy League Championship win was the first in 37 years. It was the first outright title in 37 years, but Yale shared the title in many years including 1999 and 2006.