Office of the President

Sexual violence: It’s on all of us

From my time as a university president and my own experience as a father, I know that parents worry about a lot of things the day they first drop their son or daughter off at college. They hope these young men and women will make friends, get good grades, manage money, learn to do laundry and forge independence. No parent should also be faced with the much graver concern of sexual assault on campus. And more than that, no student should live in fear on a campus that is designed as a haven for learning, growing and developing healthy relationships.

Sexual violence on campus is a widespread societal problem, and intercollegiate athletics, along with all of higher education, has a role to play in combating this alarming trend. 

We talk frequently of our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of our student-athletes, and that commitment is not confined to the field of play. The NCAA is dedicated to partnering with its member schools to work toward making college a safe place for everyone in every situation: from the sports field to the Friday night party.

I, along with the Executive Committee and my staff, will not shy away from this issue. Since 1994, the NCAA has provided training, resources and guidance to campus life skills coordinators, including information on sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention. Additionally, the NCAA has assisted members by sponsoring bystander intervention training, providing grant funding for presentations on sexual assault prevention and healthy relationships, and offering Title IX sexual harassment training. While our efforts have had a positive impact and been well-received, there is still work to be done. We will continue to work with our members to seek effective, evidence-based solutions.

This past summer, as part of the Association’s continued efforts to address campus sexual assault, the Executive Committee proposed and unanimously approved a resolution stating that NCAA athletics departments must comply with campus authorities and ensure that all athletics staff, coaches, administrators and student-athletes maintain a hostile-free environment for all student-athletes regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Moving forward, the NCAA is conducting research to examine how athletics departments are handling cases of sexual violence. We are dedicated to finding ways to support campuses handling these cases expeditiously and appropriately. In September, we released a handbook on the matter, “Addressing Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence: Athletics’ Role in Support of Healthy and Safe Campuses.”  

In addition, the NCAA has partnered with the White House on the “It’s on Us” campaign, which seeks to shift the way we think about sexual violence. 

This is a societal issue that involves more than a perpetrator and a victim. We’re all responsible for changing the culture of sexual violence.

Intercollegiate athletics has been – and must continue to be – part of the solution. Our students deserve more from their peers, coaches, administrators, local law enforcement and the highest levels of university leadership. As the White House initiative states, it’s on us. All of us.

Mark Emmert
NCAA President