By Jim Wyatt, The Tennessean
A Metro police investigation involving four Vanderbilt football players is nearing an end following a week when sex crimes detectives traveled to the West Coast to examine leads in the case, a police spokesman said Monday.
The news comes two weeks after Vanderbilt released the names of the four players the university kicked off the team, suspended from school and banned from campus for violating team rules related to the ongoing investigation.
Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said Monday night that leads required two investigators to go to the West Coast last week. The officers have since returned, and police officials have remained in contact with the district attorney's office.
"This investigation has been active since the very day the police department learned of it," Aaron said. "I am not going to pin myself down on a time frame except to say the analysis of evidence gave us new leads that had to be pursued.
"Among those leads were matters on the West Coast. Our detectives were there last week, they have now returned and the investigation from the police department's standpoint is nearing completion. But there is no definitive time frame."
The four players dismissed from the university were Cory Lamont Batey, 19, from Nashville; Brandon Eric Banks, 19, from Maryland; JaBorian "Tip" McKenzie, 18, from Mississippi; and Brandon Vandenburg, 20, from California.
Vandenburg was one of the nation's top junior-college recruits when he signed with Vanderbilt out of College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., in February. The former University of San Diego player was expected to fill an immediate need at tight end.
Aaron declined to say whether detectives were sent to talk to Vandenburg. No charges have been filed, and Aaron declined to say whether any would be filed in the case.
"I can't speak to that," he said.
The university and Metro police have been tight-lipped about the investigation, and Aaron declined to give further details Monday night. Metro detectives and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continue to examine forensic evidence.
Neither law enforcement officials nor the university has indicated what connection the players may have to the sex crimes investigation, and no arrests have been made. Vanderbilt has said the players were dismissed only for violating team rules related to the June investigation.
Police have said DNA and other forensic evidence will play a key part in the sex crimes probe. Police also have said evidence in the case has been collected and sent to police electronics experts and TBI scientists who specialize in DNA.
"We continue to consult regularly with the district attorney's office about the matter, and they have been kept fully apprised of our progress," Aaron said. "I am not going to say why (detectives went to the West Coast).
"But it does appear the investigation is nearing a conclusion."