Jan 23, 2020 - Sports

The NCAA's "predator pipeline"

Reproduced from Jennifer F.A. Borresen/USA Today; Diagram: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Jennifer F.A. Borresen/USA Today; Diagram: Axios Visuals

The NCAA routinely punishes student athletes for getting bad grades or accepting free meals, but nowhere in its 440-page rule book does it cite penalties for sexual violence.

Driving the news: Last month, USA Today published a wide-ranging investigation that examined how college athletes move from school to school and continue to play sports even after being found responsible for sexual assault.

Key findings

1. Athletes are frequent offenders: Over the past five years, the nearly three dozen NCAA Division I universities that contributed data disciplined athletes for sexual misconduct at more than three times the rate of the general student population.

2. The transfer "loophole": Even when expelled from school, the NCAA allows athletes to transfer elsewhere and keep playing, "a pipeline that college athletes disciplined for sexual assault use regularly to resurrect their playing careers and leave sanctions behind," writes USA Today's Kenny Jacoby.

  • Crazy story: After a star University of Oregon football player was expelled for raping two women, the U.S. Department of Education helped facilitate a deal that got his disciplinary record changed from "expelled for sexual misconduct" to "expelled for student conduct," a change that helped him get recruited.

3. Schools won't comply: USA Today tried to collect disciplinary records from 226 Division I public schools across the country, but only 35 complied.

"People in higher education have come to regard their institutions as a brand and will do anything to protect the brand, even if that means putting people on campus at risk."
ā€” Frank LoMonte, University of Florida Professor

4. The push for change: Advocates continue to spread awareness about this cause, which has led some NCAA conferences to adopt their own sexual violence policies, with a handful of schools taking a zero-tolerance approach.

What to watch: The USA Today investigation caught the attention of Congress, which has since pressured the NCAA to review its sexual violence policies. Perhaps president Mark Emmert will address the topic in his "state-of-college-sports" address tonight at the organization's annual convention.

Go deeper: Global #MeToo movement has resulted in 6 convictions, 5 charges of influential figures

Go deeper