University of Tennessee freshman running back Treyvon Paulk was dismissed from the team Monday after allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend in the mouth early Sunday morning outside a student housing complex.
Head Coach Butch Jones announced Paulk’s dismissal Monday at his weekly news conference, saying he was being removed from the team for a “personal conduct issue.” He refused to take any further questions on the incident.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office released a statement later in the afternoon saying that Paulk had been accused of assault but that the victim, 18-year-old UT student Chelsea Reese, had neither pressed charges nor sought a protective order. She had cuts on her lips, according to the report, but did not need medical treatment.
According to a University of Tennessee Police Department incident report, Reese was asked about the incident by UTPD officers and told them, “He hit me! He hit me!” She also told officers, according to the report, that the 19-year-old Paulk had assaulted her on several occasions during their 7½-year relationship, with those first occasions coming when the two were in high school.
However, in a statement released via email to the News Sentinel with the understanding that her name would be used, Reese denied the allegations.
“This is the only thing I have to say,” Reese said. “I have one statement to make regarding the incident with Treyvon Paulk, I want to clarify the misunderstanding and the statement filed on the police report. Treyvon did not intentionally strike me in the mouth with his fist as it was stated.”
When asked what did happen, however, Reese refused to explain further.
On Monday afternoon, Paulk hung up when a News-Sentinel reporter called and identified himself, but then called back in the evening to vehemently deny all of the allegations. He said that he did not hit Reese on Sunday morning and that he has never hit her. He said that Reese was grabbing at him and that he simply pulled away from her.
“Not once did I raise my fist and hit her,” said Paulk, who also said he was “completely sober” at the time of the incident. “I told the coaches that. I told everybody that. Just to clear that up, I did not hit her.”
Paulk said he was in contact with the UT coaching staff Sunday morning when he was told he would be dismissed.
“They said there’s nothing they can do,” he said. “It’s out of their hands. I had nobody to vouch for me or anything.”
According to the UTPD report, Reese’s stepmother, Julie Reese, called police to inform them of the incident. Officers responded at approximately 3 a.m. to a parking garage on White Avenue where Chelsea Reese was with Andraya Carter, a sophomore guard on the UT women’s basketball team.
Julie Reese was on the phone with Carter at the time. Carter, who had allegedly witnessed the assault, told officers that Paulk had punched Chelsea Reese in the mouth. Carter also told police there were multiple witnesses to the assault, which allegedly occurred in the courtyard of Quarry Trail apartments. Julie Reese told officers that her stepdaughter had called her to tell her she’d been punched. She also told officers that Paulk had struck her before.
Chelsea Reese was at first reluctant to speak to police, according to the report, because she was worried about getting in trouble for consuming alcohol and also because she was worried about Paulk and did not want him to lose his football scholarship. She eventually told police, according to the report, that Paulk struck her and that he had assaulted her before. She also told police that another UT football player, freshman linebacker/defensive back Elliot Berry, witnessed the incident and pulled Paulk away from Reese after Paulk struck her.
Paulk, an Alpharetta, Ga., native, was expected to take a redshirt this season because he had not fully recovered from a knee injury suffered as a high school senior.