New NCAA Policy Aims to Identify Violent Recruits

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The NCAA has approved rules that will make it harder for student-athletes with a history of violence or sexual assault to slip through the cracks.

Following a USA Today investigation that detailed how some schools were unknowingly recruiting student-athletes with criminal records, the NCAA has enacted a new policy that requires athletes to annually disclose acts of violence that resulted in an investigation, discipline through a Title IX proceeding or criminal conviction.

The new policy covers sex offenses, dating and domestic violence, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault and assaults that cause serious bodily injury or involve deadly weapons.

Colleges and universities will now be required to adopt policies that require staff to gather criminal background information on all recruits. The new rules will take effect at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Related: Report Alleges NCAA, Top Colleges Complicit in Coverup

“The action is the latest step by the Association, consistent with its values, in supporting NCAA member schools to address sexual violence on their campuses,” Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University, told USA Today. 

Advocates for sexual assault survivors said the rules are a good first step but criticized the NCAA for stopping short of restricting eligibility for athletes who have been found guilty of violent acts. Instead, schools can penalize athletes who fail to disclose relevant information, and it penalizes schools that don’t comply with the policy by prohibiting them from hosting NCAA championship competitions the next school year. 

Daisy Tackett, a former University of Kansas rower, who was raped by a Jayhawks football player in 2015, called the policy “toothless.” 

“If the NCAA wants to take sexual violence seriously, they would guarantee that any athlete who sexually violates others will not be allowed back into the clearing house, instead of just leaving it up to the school’s discretion,” Tackett told the USA Today. “The NCAA should take on the liability if it means protecting students, instead of protecting themselves.”

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