College Player's Teen Conviction Raises Concerns | Athletic Business

College Player's Teen Conviction Raises Concerns

A report published in The Oregonian/OregonLive on Thursday brought to light a controversy that could put a damper on the Oregon State baseball team's attempt to qualify for the College World Series.

The initial report revealed that the Beavers’ ace pitcher, Luke Heimlich, pleaded guilty as a teenager to a charge of sexually molesting a young female family member. He was forced to register as a low-risk sex offender in the state of Washington in 2012 as a result. It remains unclear the extent to which Heimlich's status as a sex offender impacted his joining the Oregon State baseball team.

The NCAA doesn't currently have a national policy that dictates how member schools regard athletes who’ve been convicted of crimes as juveniles. Oregon State does not require any student — athlete or otherwise — to report any criminal conviction during the admissions process. However, university spokesperson Steve Clark told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the school does have processes in place to learn whether a student is a registered sex offender, and that the school shares that information with the county.

Still, it’s unclear whether this process provided any information to the athletic department or the baseball team. Clark said that the university has no formal policy requiring information to be shared with any member of the athletic department, including a player’s head coach.

The report caused a dramatic reaction; some questioned the decision to publish the revelation in the first place and others wondered why Heimlich was ever allowed to play on the baseball team.  

The university released a statement in response, which can be viewed in its entirety here. Below is an excerpt:

The Oregonian account is disturbing, and Oregon State University in no way condones the conduct as reported and that we understand was addressed years ago by the judicial system in the state of Washington. We take this issue very seriously. “I want to make clear that each day the safety and security of our students at Oregon State University is our number one priority. Our policies and procedures provide a safe learning environment for our community and seek to ensure that all prospective and current students are treated fairly and equitably,” said Oregon State President Ed Ray.

The news raises questions about admissions policies in a broad context, particularly as high-profile collegiate athletics programs grapple with handling sex crimes. Should policies change so that student-athletes with criminal pasts are required to report transgressions to the teams recruiting them? Vote in our poll: {module College criminal policy}

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