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NCAA convenes commission on sexual violence

In its first meeting, new Board of Governors commission considers college sports’ role

A commission appointed by the NCAA’s highest-ranking board gathered Tuesday in a daylong meeting aimed at establishing the commission’s role as the NCAA works to combat sexual violence on college campuses.

The roster of the NCAA Board of Governors Commission To Combat Campus Sexual Violence includes individuals from broad-ranging areas of expertise: College and university presidents, conference commissioners, coaches, athletics directors and college athletes took seats next to activists, social workers, educators and other sexual violence experts. They gathered to discuss the role school athletics departments, athletics conferences and the NCAA should play in addressing and eradicating incidents of sexual violence and the campus cultures that enable them. The commission will consider not only how to better prevent and educate about sexual violence, but also to help define the role of the NCAA and possibly develop national protocols.

“With this group of people, with their expertise, their knowledge, their passion, they inspire all of us to have the vision of eliminating sexual violence and assault on college campuses,” said Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy and co-chair of the commission.

“This group has high aspirations to create campus culture change,” said Carol Quillen, president of Davidson College in North Carolina and co-chair of the commission.

The commission focused its first meeting on identifying the components of its charge, which was outlined by the Board of Governors in August and fine-tuned Tuesday by the commission itself. It will examine issues and propose solutions for what athletics departments, conferences and the NCAA can do to address issues associated with sexual violence, and ultimately, the commission hopes to inspire cultural change surrounding how sexual violence is addressed on college campuses.

The commission agreed to five areas of focus:

  • Defining the role of the athletics department, conference and the NCAA in advocating for victims and survivors of sexual violence and working to prevent, educate about and resolve allegations of sexual violence.
  • Advancing discussions about whether some aspects of the NCAA Board of Governors’ resolution on sexual violence prevention should be considered by the three divisions for adoption as legislation.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of existing NCAA educational resources and determining the next steps for distributing robust education tools to member schools and conferences.
  • Identifying a common language for terms related to sexual violence that can be used throughout the NCAA and other higher education associations.
  • Exploring the larger questions around institutional and individual accountability, such as eligibility for intercollegiate participation and following established policies and procedures.

The commission was created in August, when the Board of Governors also directed the NCAA’s three divisions to consider passing legislation that codifies guidelines outlined in its 2014 resolution. That resolution was adopted by the NCAA Executive Committee, as the Board of Governors was previously known.

The commission unanimously voted to support the Board of Governors’ overall efforts toward further implementation and operation of that resolution, including engaging in the development of consistent legislation across the three divisions.

Any recommendations that emerge from the new commission will be the latest steps in the NCAA’s ongoing conversation about sexual violence prevention and education. Weeks after the resolution passed in 2014, the NCAA released the handbook Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence and joined the White House-initiated partnership It’s On Us, designed to encourage bystander intervention. The NCAA then convened its Sexual Assault Task Force in 2015 and sponsored the Higher Education Summit on Sexual Assault in February.

This fall, the NCAA released a new resource designed as a guide for college athletics administrators and other campus officials to help them correctly navigate issues surrounding sexual violence. The guide, titled Sexual Violence Prevention: An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture. , will be delivered to campuses this fall.