Austin Stowell (Whiplash) has been cast as the central character in Controversy, Fox’s investigative thriller drama pilot written by Up in the Air co-writer Sheldon Turner, directed by This Is Us’ John Requa & Glenn Ficarra and executive produced by Scandal co-executive producer Judy Smith. The project hails from 20th TV and Turner and Jennifer Klein’s Vendetta Productions.

Written by Turner, Controversy tackles the hot-button topic of college campus sexual assault. It centers on Matt Kincaid (Stowell), the Junior Counsel of a prestigious Illinois university who must deal with an out-of-control scandal when a female student accuses several star football players of sexual assault. From the football coaches and boosters who wield outsize influence, to a university administration under siege, the series explores the type of high-profile controversy all too familiar on today’s college campuses, as well as the corrosive, dangerous nature of institutional power.

Smith, a real-life top crisis-management consultant, executive produces Controversy alongside Turner & Klein via Vendetta and Requa, Ficarra & Charlie Gogolak via Zaftig Films. Both companies are under deals at 20th TV.

Stowell previously co-starred on the TNT period drama series Public Morals. His feature credits also include the Dolphin Tale franchise and Bridge of Spies. The actor, who will next be seen as Billie Jean King’s husband Larry King in Battle of the Sexes, is repped by CAA and ROAR.