The NCAA is being sued by seven women — from three universities — alleging that the organization failed to protect them from sexual assaults by college athletes.
According to ESPN, the women accuse the NCAA of negligence, fraud and breach in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The seven women allege that they were sexually assaulted by male student-athletes at Michigan State, Nebraska and an unnamed college in the American East Conference.
“To be part of a group really symbolizes it’s not just one person going against the NCAA,” said plaintiff and former Michigan State sprinter Emma Roedel, who is also suing Michigan State and says she was raped by a male teammate in 2017. “Hey, this isn’t just one of us. It is all of us. And if this is happening to all of us, you need to do something and take action.”
ESPN reported that the lawsuit argues that the NCAA has a duty “to supervise, regulate, monitor and provide reasonable and appropriate rules to minimize the risk of injury or danger to student-athletes and by student-athletes.” The NCAA typically pushes responsibility for sexual assault allegations onto the universities, according to David Ridpath, the president of the Drake Group, a think take that protects academic integrity in college sports.
The lawsuit says that the NCAA failed to disclose the “special risks” related to sexual violence for female students, failed to take action when athletes’ sexual violence was reported, for not supervising employees responsible for addressing sexual violence, and for failing to monitor Title IX investigations and the response of universities.
The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA “knew or should have known that their actions or inaction in light of the rate and extent of sexual assaults reported and made known to [the NCAA] by male student-athletes … would cause harm to female student-athletes and non-student-athletes at NCAA member institution campuses in both the short- and long-term.”
“It doesn’t have to go to a jury for it to be effective,” Ridpath told ESPN of the lawsuit. “It can shame the NCAA into doing something better to protect the athletes, specifically female athletes.”
One plaintiff is Capri Davis, who left the Nebraska volleyball team last fall and transferred to Texas in part because of how Nebraska failed to respond to her report that two football players groped her and another one of the plaintiffs at a party. The other plaintiff, Davis’ friend, also reported that she had been raped by two football players in August 2018.
According to ESPN, the lawsuit describes the Nebraska football players in a way that indicates it was Katerian LeGrone and Andre Hunt, who were expelled in April after being found responsible for sexual misconduct in a separate incident.