Earlier this month, University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle addressed the topic of investigations into student conduct code violations, stating that he's a "firm believer it’s not the athletics director’s job to investigate anything."
Coyle said such investigations have to go through the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, "and we’ll always be respectful of that process."
According to a report on twincities.com, a new student-athlete code of conduct activated this year added a mandate that the EOAA and its Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity "will inform the athletic director of the investigation of a respondent student-athlete and will provide the athletic director a description of complainant’s allegations, other relevant information, and, if applicable, copies of police reports." Such language did not exist at the time student-athletes in the Minnesota football and basketball programs faced accusations of sexual misconduct in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Those investigations ended with recommendations of expulsion for the accused.
In the event Minnesota student-athletes face similar accusations in the future, Coyle will have more information earlier in the investigative process. Coyle was quoted Sunday as saying, "I think if we can continue to have that communication between the units to make sure we understand where we’re at in the investigation, what information do we have … we can make the best decision for the student athlete and for the institution on how we move forward."
Under the new code, student-athletes will generally not face sanctions until the EOAA has made its initial findings unless EOAA believes the alleged conduct will subject a student-athlete to suspension or expulsion and the athletic director believes the evidence is “substantial, corroborated, and compelling.” Coyle could then impose interim sanctions, including suspension, prior to the EOAA's initial findings.
"The changes you’ve seen have helped make it more clear so everybody does understand the process,” Coyle told twincities.com Sunday. “Our program has been through a lot, and we want to make sure that we continue to grow and build, and again we continue to provide a first-class experience for every student, so we worked closely with all parties on campus with that."