Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in Athletics Settings

Presenting Circumstances

  • Athletics or higher administration management wishes to install comprehensive policy and educational solutions to coach, staff and/or student-athlete misconduct that may cross the line or escalate into violations of Title IX prohibitions against sexual abuse and harassment.
  • The following recent events raise concerns regarding whether the athletics department has mechanisms to prevent their occur at an educational institution:

o    Sandusky/Penn State – coach/youth program participant abused by athletics department staff member
o    Fine/Syracuse –assistant coach accused of molesting ball boys
o    Dodd/AAU – program administrator accused of sexual abuse of boys, youth basketball program
o    159 coaches, nearly all male perpetrators abusing girls, in state of Washington  fired or reprimanded over the period of a decade for sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to rape
o    USA Swimming declared 64 coaches or others permanently ineligible for membership, with 58 listed as committing code of conduct violations 
o    USA Gymnastics declared 84 coaches or others permanently ineligible for membership due to conduct violations

  • Aggressive media,  more educated parents, a litigious environment and a high risk social media environment demand clearer definitions of ethical conduct 
  • Legal protections:  Title IX, Clery Act, state child welfare laws, court cases clarifying/upholding victim’s rights


Overview of Consultant Deliverables

  • Assessment of current athletics policy manual and student-athlete handbook to insure inclusion of clear policy statements related to athletics staff and student obligations and prohibitions related to stalking, relationship violence, bullying, hazing and cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, retaliation and professional misconduct
  • Presentation of workshops to  specific groups specified by the client:  athletics and or physical education and recreation staff, coaches, student-athletes, senior administrators and Title IX compliance administrators
  • Provision of model policies, educational handouts and materials to be posted in locker rooms other public areas
  • Coach specific sessions that address high risk but common practices in competitive sport settings including the use of physical punishment, emotional/verbal abuse, physical bodily contact, equal treatment, responsibility for team success/failure, delegation of responsibility to team captains or volunteers, romantic/dating/social relationships with staff or student-athletes, use of peer pressure, team rules or requests related to social isolation and team initiation rituals