By Ken Reed

It’s an understatement to say the NCAA has a few problems these days.

The concussion issue is huge. The “pay-for-play” issue is gigantic.

But another major issue on the NCAA’s plate, one that perhaps places the NCAA in an even worse light than the concussion or “pay-for-play” issues — if that’s possible — is the growing problem of college athletes involved in sexual assault cases. The way the NCAA and its member schools have handled — or ignored — this issue is, in too many cases, reprehensible.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) released the findings of a campus sex assault survey last month. One shocking finding among many was that 22 percent of a national sample of colleges and universities said they gave athletic departments an oversight role in sexual assault cases involving athletes.

“I don’t need to explain why that is a big problem,” McCaskill said. The athletic departments, she said, want to protect athletes. “I think it would scare just about any victim into the shadows,” she concluded.

That survey follows high profile sexual assault cases involving athletes at Florida State University (including Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston) and Vanderbilt university, among others, including the Air Force Academy.

Sexual assault is a growing problem on our nation’s campuses. A Washington Post study based on data from 2010-12 found a rising number of reports of forcible-sex offenses at many schools. Currently, more than 60 colleges and universities face federal Title IX investigations related to their handling of sexual violence complaints.

The Air Force Academy sex scandal is the latest to come to the forefront. Air Force Academy leaders are dealing with reports of sexual assault involving multiple athletes in recent years. Included in the allegations is a report of a party involving several Air Force athletes, synthetic marijuana, a “date-rape” drug and non-consensual sex with women. These reports follow accusations that Air Force athletes receive special academic treatment.

At a July hearing in front of a United States Senate committee looking at the state of college athletics, NCAA president Mark Emmert faced heavy criticism for his organization’s approach to sexual assault involving athletes.

“You’ve got to fix that, Dr. Emmert. Walk out this door and fix that,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

She could’ve given the same directive to college and university presidents across the country — especially those heading up schools with big-time Division I sports departments.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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