August 18, 2014 — College athletic departments should cooperate with investigations into sexual assault allegations against student athletes, but they should not oversee such cases, the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Executive Committee said in a resolution last week, the McClatchy/Miami Herald reports.
The Executive Committee -- NCAA's highest decision-making body -- unanimously approved the resolution in light of a recent survey that found that 22% of colleges let their athletic departments handle such investigations. Among Division I, II and III schools, 30% permit athletic departments to have oversight of the investigations (Schoof, McClatchy/Miami Herald, 8/14). Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) office conducted the survey to gauge how campuses and local law enforcement deal with sexual assault investigations (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/10).
McCaskill after a Senate hearing last month expressed surprise that NCAA President Mark Emmert, who testified at the hearing, was not aware that many schools allowed athletic department to oversee the investigations. "The fact [that] he didn't know [the statistics] until our survey is probably an indictment as to how serious [colleges] have been about this problem," McCaskill said.
The resolution calls on collegiate athletic departments to "cooperate with but not manage, direct, control or interfere with college or university investigations into allegations of sexual violence ensuring that investigations involving student-athletes and athletics department staff are managed in the same manner as all other students and staff on campus."
The Executive Committee said the resolution "recognizes the importance of addressing the abhorrent societal issue of sexual violence," adding that it is the "collective responsibility" of NCAA members "to maintain campuses as safe places to learn, live, work and play" (McClatchy/Miami Herald, 8/14).