Office of the President
Every fall, millions of students arrive at their college campuses for a new school year. It’s an exciting time, with new ideas to learn, friends to meet, and sports teams to cheer on. But not all experiences at college will be good ones – far too many students will also face the risk of sexual violence. In fact, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 16 men will be victims of sexual assault in college.
Making campuses safe places for students is a priority for everyone, including those of us who work in college athletics. The NCAA is committed to safeguarding the health of our students and providing a safe environment for them. We are working to protect them physically and mentally, on the field and off. Addressing the abhorrent societal issue of sexual violence is a core component of this commitment.
In recent months, the Association has continued to promote meaningful change to combat this issue. At its August meeting, the NCAA Board of Governors directed the leadership of the three divisions to consider the tenets of the resolution it passed two years ago and use them to create new up-to-date legislation. That resolution requires athletics departments to comply with campus authorities and follow campus protocol for reporting incidents of sexual violence and educate student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff about sexual violence prevention. The resolution also directs athletics departments to cooperate – but not interfere – with investigations of sexual violence allegations involving student-athletes, coaches or athletics staff.
In addition, the board created a new committee – composed of college presidents and chancellors, students, experts and practitioners in student services and assault prevention, among others – focused on combatting sexual violence on college campuses. The board has charged the committee to build on the work that has already been done to examine what must be done at the campus, conference and national level, with an emphasis on the athletics departments and student-athletes in particular. I look forward to the progress the committee will make after it begins its work this fall.
While the NCAA considers additional steps to combat sexual violence, its Sport Science Institute has released an educational guide, “Sexual Violence Prevention: An Athletics Tool Kit for a Healthy and Safe Culture.” This resource provides hands-on evaluation checklists and other resources to support athletics’ commitment to preventing sexual violence involving student-athletes. While each athletics department should develop a sexual violence prevention program tailored to its unique situation, this tool kit will help improve their education and programming and evaluate their success.
There is still much work to be done. Change takes time, and we want to make sure the Association takes thoughtful and deliberate action that does not interfere with individual campuses while also promoting the well-being of all students. The committee will review opportunities for education, including the implementation of common language throughout the membership. Additionally, it will examine the board’s resolution and its possible transition into NCAA bylaws.
But the committee cannot stand alone in its work. This kind of change requires collaboration with those outside athletics to make campuses safe for all. The college sports community must recognize its responsibility to the safety of students. I am pleased with the progress we have made thus far; however, there is much more to be done.