But his dreams were derailed following his indefinite suspension for a sexual encounter with a female athletic trainer for the CSU-Pueblo football team that a witness believed was non-consensual.
He insists that the woman did consent to the sex act — and as reported by CBS4, he's filed a federal lawsuit against the college for its actions.
Supporters of Neal created a Change.org petition that spells out their take on the incident and its unjust impact in the following introduction:
Grant Neal is an exemplary student, scholarship athlete, friend and family member. His life has been completely upended by the unfounded and gross misuse of Title IX at CSU Pueblo, and we are asking the school to review and reverse the ruling that was made without due process. The alleged victim has made no accusation of non-consensual sex. It was an unknown third party who made the accusation and the school, despite overwhelming evidence and Constitutional due process in support of Grant, he has been labeled as sexual offender. He has been stripped of his scholarship, he has been forced to leave school. His life is in limbo. It is hard to get into any school when your transcripts are marked with “Title IX" As parents, we need to educate ourselves on the gross misuse of Title IX. If this can happen to Grant, it can happen to any of our children. When we drop them off at college, they should not be checking their right to due process at the campus door. A change needs to be made. CSU Pueblo can be the example used to create precedent. We need to protect all of our kids, not just our daughters. The point of Title IX was to create equality, not victims.As for the details of what happened, Neal tells CBS4 that he and the woman went to a movie together on October 23, after which she performed oral sex on him in his car.
Afterward, in a text exchange, the woman maintained that her roommates "said they saw us doing stuff.”
Neal's response: “like what?? Kissing.”
“No … like more than kissing,” she replied. “I’m so embarrassed … not gunna lie.”
Two days later, the pair had sex that Neal said was consensual — although there was a pause after initial penetration, when she asked him to stop and put on a condom, which he did. But the next morning, a friend saw a hickey on the woman's neck, learned she'd had sex with a football player, concluded that a rape had taken place, and contacted university officials, according to CBS4's account.
What followed was a Title IX investigation that "found the preponderance of evidence substantiated a finding of sexual misconduct on the part of Grant Neal for participating in non-consensual sexual intercourse on Oct. 25 for the moment when he didn’t have a condom on during that sexual encounter," the station reports.
In his defense, Neal maintains that the woman told investigators, "He’s a good guy. He’s not a rapist, he’s not a criminal, it’s not even worth any of this hoopla.”
He also shared audio of a conversation with the woman in which she said, “I hope you know I don’t think you did any of that, right? I may be acting like the typical girl who just got raped, but I hope you know I don’t think I did." And now he's filed suit in federal court in an effort to clear his name.
Look below to see a document profiling Neal and outlining his claims of innocence from the Change.org petition.