BLOOMINGTON – Indiana athletics has enacted a policy disqualifying its programs from adding any athlete with a history of sexual or domestic violence.
The policy bans “any prospective student-athlete — whether a transfer student, incoming freshman, or other status — who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence.” It further defines “sexual violence” as “dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual violence as defined by the Indiana University policy on sexual misconduct.”
Approved by the Indiana University-Bloomington Faculty Athletics Committee earlier this month, the policy is the brainchild of Athletic Director Fred Glass, and was written in consultation with a number of campus entities, including IU’s Office of Student Welfare and Title IX, and its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
“I think this will be an important policy to help protect members of the Indiana University community,” Glass told IndyStar.
The decision comes at a time when issues of sexual and domestic violence involving college athletes are raising debate and sparking scandal across the country.
In 2015, the Southeastern Conference initiated a ban on member institutions accepting transfers athletes with a history of “serious misconduct” — sexual assault, domestic assault or other forms of sexual violence.
Thus far, the Big Ten has elected to leave such decisions up to individual institutions, and Glass has stayed on the front foot in the area. At various points in 2015 and 2016 — and pointing to ongoing issues at other institutions, including Baylor — he distributed detailed memorandums and instructions to his entire department spelling out his expectations in any such situation.
IU has acted swiftly recently in cases with athletes and sexual misconduct. Kiante Enis, a freshman football player, was dismissed within hours of his September arrest on child molesting charges.
Now, empowered by the conference to handle said issues internally, Glass has formalized a policy that extends even further than the SEC’s, to incoming freshmen, as well as transfers.
“It’s something the SEC, with their transfer ban, I think raised the issue generally,” said Glass, who has repeatedly supported a similar Big Ten-wide rule. “We’ve been working on that since that time, in trying to put something together that makes sense for Indiana University.”
In drawing up the language of the policy, a copy of which was shared with IndyStar, Glass said his department consulted several campus entities, including the Office of Title IX, SAAC, IU’s faculty athletics representative, Kurt Zorn, and Glass’ head coaches.
It includes an appellate process, Glass said, acknowledging that “there’s always a chance that there’s going to be some person that gets caught up in this that shouldn’t, when you consider all the circumstances.”
But Glass also emphasized that any such appeal would go before a committee comprised of Zorn, IU general counsel Jacqueline Simmons and IU chief student welfare and Title IX officer Emily Springston.
“The key to that,” Glass said, “is those decisions are being made outside the athletic department.”
Indiana’s standing policy of suspending athletes accused of a sexually violent crime from competition until the matter is resolved remains.
This change, Glass said, strengthens his department’s position further.
“I think it’s new ground,” Glass said. “My hope is that we’re leading in this area, and maybe others will follow with, maybe not the exact same policy, but one that fits their particular institutions.”
Provided by Indiana University:
Indiana University Athletics Policy Disqualifying Prospective Student-Athletes with Records of Sexual Violence
This Policy is designed to help protect all members of the Indiana University community.
Any prospective student-athlete — whether a transfer student, incoming freshman, or other status — who has been convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence (as defined below), or has been found responsible for sexual violence by a formal institutional disciplinary action at any previous collegiate or secondary school (excluding limited discipline applied by a sports team or temporary disciplinary action during an investigation) shall not be eligible for athletically-related financial aid, practice or competition at Indiana University. Indiana University Athletics shall conduct an appropriate inquiry into every prospective student-athlete’s background consistent with the due diligence below prior to providing him/her athletically-related aid or allowing him/her to practice or compete.
For purposes of this provision, “sexual violence” is dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or sexual violence as defined by the Indiana University Policy on Sexual Misconduct (UA-03).
Indiana University Athletics requires due diligence efforts to gather pertinent information regarding the prior conduct of every prospective student-athlete who seeks to enroll and participate in intercollegiate athletics. Pursuant to the Department’s October 22, 2015, Student Conduct Policy, a criminal background check and internet search must be performed on every prospective student-athlete. Accessing as much as possible publicly available information regarding prospective student-athletes, including their digital footprint, is strongly recommended. Coaches should also talk to teachers, coaches, administrators, teammates and family members of prospective student-athletes. In addition, prospective student-athletes should be specifically asked about any previous or potential arrests, convictions, protective orders, probations, suspensions, expulsions, or other discipline involving sexual violence or any other matter.
Any issue as to if or how this policy applies to a particular prospective student-athlete will be resolved by the Office of General Counsel.
In addition to the mandatory disqualification of prospective student-athletes with records of sexual violence as set forth in this policy, prospective student-athletes may and should be disqualified for other demonstrated unacceptable misconduct. Specifically, consistent with the Student Conduct Policy, IU Athletics will carefully consider whether to recruit any prospective student-athletes with any serious and/or repetitive criminal, school discipline, or other misconduct issues. Also consistent with that policy, the sport administrator for the pertinent sport must approve the recruitment of any prospective student-athlete with any serious and/or repetitive criminal, school discipline, or other misconduct issues.
Relief from this mandatory disqualification policy may only be granted by a panel consisting of the University Title IX Coordinator, University General Counsel, and University Faculty Athletics Representative after a review by it of all the pertinent facts available and a finding of compelling exceptional circumstances.
Approved by the Indiana University Bloomington Faculty Athletics Committee on April 12, 2017.
[IMAGE: Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar]