A rape survivor and activist is making a difference in college athletics.
Brenda Tracy is the inspiration for the Tracy Rule, which is being adopted at the University of Texas-San Antonio and Slippery Rock University to make it more difficult for NCAA athletes who commit violent crimes to keep playing.
UTSA became the first NCAA school to adopt the rule in September, essentially prohibiting athletes who’ve committed acts of sexual violence to play sports at the university. Slippery Rock followed suit, releasing a statement last week to the USA TODAY Network that it will adopt the Tracy Rule.
“Slippery Rock University is currently reviewing its application for all transfer applicants with legal counsel to develop a question that asks about disciplinary history, including pending charges, at all former colleges,” Slippery Rock’s statement said. “In addition, SRU will be implementing Tracy’s Rule. We are currently reviewing the public materials available on the UTSA website for adaptation at SRU. We are planning a training for coaches early next semester.”
“I’m happy to hear that Slippery Rock University is adopting the Tracy Rule,” said Tracy, who was sexually assaulted by four men, including two football players, near the Oregon State campus in 1998. “I hope other institutions and the NCAA will follow their lead.
“We must continue to hold all institutions accountable and demand transparency. Our campus students deserve nothing less.”
Slippery Rock, a Division II school in Pennsylvania, has recent experience with the issues addressed by the Tracy Rule. Slippery Rock was mentioned in a December USA TODAY Network investigation that identified at least 33 athletes since 2014 who have transferred to new schools after being found responsible for sexual offenses. Eric Glover-Williams was suspended from Ohio State University for “non-consensual sexual intercourse” in 2016, spending a year at Mississippi Golf Coast Community College before transferring to Slippery Rock and joining the football team in 2018. Glover-Williams’ eligibility expired after the 2019 season.
Slippery Rock football coach Shawn Lutz said the staff knew that Glover-Williams had violated team rules and was involved in a student conduct case, but didn’t know he’d been found responsible for rape.
“Our coaching staff spoke directly with members of the OSU staff,” Lutz said in November. “No issues of sexual misconduct or violent misconduct were disclosed.
“When we asked for more information, we were told the incident in question was not a legal issue and that Eric was never charged or held responsible for any wrongdoing.”
Ohio State released an opposing statement, saying it provided Glover-Williams’ sexual misconduct information when University of Toledo recruiters asked about him, but the school has “no record of an inquiry from Slippery Rock regarding Eric Glover-Williams, and Slippery Rock refused to say who in Ohio State Athletics they had ‘extensive conversations’ with.”
The Tracy Rule seeks to eliminate this confusion, requiring athletes to self-disclose disciplinary proceedings into their conduct. It also requires the Title IX coordinator at an athlete’s previous colleges to sign a form stating if the athlete was involved in any violent investigations. Those found responsible for offenses are disqualified from playing sports. Athletes can appeal through an advisory committee that includes at least one victim’s advocate, counselor or other employee who is trauma-informed.