LOS ANGELES, CA - Venoy Overton #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on during halftime while the Huskies take on the Washington State Cougars in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Overton did not dress and is suspended by the team. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Venoy Overton's latest arrest is the last straw. His off-court problems have embarrassed the Washington Huskies and, more importantly, head coach Lorenzo Romar.
The lasting memory of Venoy Overton in a Washington uniform will be his ill-advised heave in the NCAA Tournament as the Huskies trailed North Carolina with time winding down in the second half. He wasn't paying attention and Washington had more than enough time to get a clean look, but Overton had one of those moments. But right now, he probably wishes that shot was the legacy he left at Washington.
For the second time this year, Venoy Overton was arrested for a cringe-inducing crime. Back in January, word leaked indicating a "prominent Washington basketball player" was under investigation for sexual assault. Overton was that prominent player, though the charge was knocked down to furnishing alcohol to a minor. You'd think he'd learn his lesson, but alas, here we are.
On Thursday afternoon, Overton was arrested again, this time for promoting prostitution. The charge is a fancy way of saying he allegedly pimped out his girlfriend. The police report said he instructed his 18-year-old girlfriend to perform sex acts to customers attracted on Kent's Pacific Highway South, a known prostitution area. He allegedly collected part of the earnings.
The details from both investigations are enough to make my skin crawl. In the first, Overton asked the two 16-year-old females he'd met on Facebook if they wanted to come back to his place for "an orgy party." An incident of a sexual nature took place, and Overton was later charged with giving the young woman alcohol, though there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a sex crime.
In the second, Overton allegedly exploited the young woman he was dating. He reportedly put her on the street, told her to perform sex acts for money and took a cut of the money earned. In both cases, the exploitation of women, and the misogyny involved, is absolutely disgusting.
After Overton was charged for the first incident, Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar took the young man aside and tried to council him. Overton was graduating from Washington in June, and Romar wanted to prepare him for the real world. It's the kind of man the Washington head coach is. He tried until the bitter end.
This past season may have been both the worst and most difficult Romar has ever endured. Sure, the Huskies won the Pac-10 Tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. But if you know Romar, the success on the court is only part of the battle. He's in the business of nurturing his players to become good men, both on and off the court.
Romar took Overton's failings hard. When he announced Overton's suspension, he looked like a broken man. His eyes were tired and red, his voice oozed disappointment and he called this season the most difficult one he's had as a coach. What happened with Overton is not typical of a Lorenzo Romar program. And for that, I'm sure he feels as though he's failed as a coach and mentor.
Lorenzo Romar didn't fail Venoy Overton; not even close. Venoy Overton failed himself. The former Washington guard was given every opportunity to succeed, yet blew it all with a series of stupid crimes. He disappointed his school, the fanbase that embraced him and, most importantly, the coach that gave him a chance and poured his heart and soul into trying to make him a better man.
And because Overton didn't take the advice of the one man trying to mentor him, he's failed and turned his back on the school and fans that embraced him. That last-second shot against North Carolina and the years he spent on the court at Washington are but a footnote now. Venoy Overton will be remembered for his failings off the court, and for how he letdown the one man who took him in and treated him like a son.