"When we looked at it and talked about it and talking to the young man, an incident from four years ago, no discipline by the university [and] he was never charged with a crime," Ballard said Wednesday. "And then you look at his track record from that point to now. Team captain. Lott Trophy quarterfinalist. He graduated with a degree in management and engineering. He's working on his master's. From 2015 to 2019, from everything we gathered and high recommendations that we got, it felt appropriate to take him."
Okereke was forthcoming about what occurred in 2015 when he met with the Colts at the Senior Bowl in January, Ballard said. The general manager said the team investigated the situation, including reviewing the documents from the ensuing Title IX case, and felt comfortable selecting the linebacker in the third round.
According to a New York Times story in December 2016, an unnamed Stanford football player was not disciplined by the school or football team after an in-house disciplinary board made up of five panelists did not get the necessary four votes to say they believed he sexually assaulted the accuser. Three of five did believe the accuser, according to the newspaper. Ballard said Okereke told the team that he was the player in the article when he was asked at the Senior Bowl if the Colts should be aware of any issues in his past.
"[These things are] very difficult," Ballard said. "Not only from our perspective from trying to get the information, but from the university perspective. You have a he-said, she-said incident. I don't want to sit here and act like we don't have sensitivity for both sides of it. But as I've kind of said, it happened four years ago and because there were no charges or disciplinary actions by the university and then his track record from everything we know to this point has been good."
The general manager acknowledged Wednesday that the team did not talk to the accuser or her lawyer due to the fact that there were no charges or discipline handed down by Stanford officials.
Ballard, who has put a premium on character inside the locker room as he continues reshaping the organization, was asked why he did not reveal the information about Okereke sooner.
"I didn't see it [as] appropriate considering he had never been charged or disciplined by the university. That's the reason why we did not give you that information," Ballard said.