NCAA Adopts Policy to Improve Sexual Violence Prevention in College Athletics Departments

College coaches, athletics administrators, and student-athletes at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) member schools are now required to annually complete sexual violence prevention education as part of a new policy adopted by the NCAA aimed at combating campus sexual assault.

The policy is based on the recommendation of the Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, a group of college and university presidents, athletics administrators, coaches, sexual violence experts, and student-athletes created by the NCAA last year to develop strategies for how athletics departments can better address campus sexual assault. The commission has worked to develop solutions that will “enhance sexual violence prevention efforts and achieve positive culture change on college campuses,” according to an NCAA press release.

Under the new policy, college presidents and chancellors, athletics directors, and Title IX coordinators at all 1,123 NCAA member schools must verify that their coaches, athletics administrators, and student-athletes have completed the sexual violence prevention education requirement. Campus leaders must also pledge that their school’s athletics department is knowledgeable about and compliant with institutional policies regarding sexual violence prevention and adjudication; and that the department has made those policies, along with contact information for the campus’s Title IX coordinator, readily available and has shared them directly with student-athletes.

Colleges and universities will be required to attest to their compliance each year; this information will be included in an annual report to the NCAA Board of Governors and published on the association’s website.

While the policy is designed to hold schools more accountable for ensuring understanding of and action around sexual assault awareness and prevention, some have criticized it for not doing enough. In a Huffington Post op-ed, S. Daniel Carter and Katherine Redmond Brown, co-founders of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, LLC, argued that the measure “mirrors existing federal policy.”

“… It merely follows what is already required under the federal Jeanne Clery Act (which includes [fines of] nearly $55,000 per violation), and more is required for there to be true accountability for violent behavior in collegiate athletics,” they stated.

Since 2010, the NCAA has worked to address the issue of campus sexual assault, including how college athletics departments should respond. However, its new policy comes on the heels of a scandal in which Baylor University football players have been accused of drugging and gang-raping female students as part of a bonding experience. The federal government filed a lawsuit against the university in May for failing to investigate such incidents.