Colorado State University released the findings of an independent investigation into its athletic department this week concerning allegations of racial insensitivity and disregard for following state, county and university protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
As reported by the Coloradoan of Fort Collins, the investigation, which was conducted by the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP and released by CSU pesident Joyce McConnell, did not substantiate allegations of widespread racial bias or insensitivity within the athletic department, as a whole, while confirming that some comments made by members of the football and women’s basketball coaching staffs were viewed as biased or insensitive.
That said, the general consensus was that concerns were not adequately addressed by athletic director Joe Parker and his administrative staff and, as a result, many athletes and coaches said they were not comfortable bringing issues to Parker and other top administrators because they didn’t believe any action would be taken.
As COVID-19, the report found issues more about consistency and communication rather than deliberate disregard of those protocols. Tracing contacts of those who tested positive was handled by the university and county health department, so the athletic department wasn’t involved in the isolation and quarantine process that prompted many of the complaints that were raised.
Noting that many of the issues raised involved former coaches who were no longer at CSU, the report ended by making a series of recommendations to improve the culture of the athletic department, including:
- Develop a system for student-athletes to report concerns to an employee outside of the Athletic Department (e.g. ombudsperson or Office of Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX) to actively encourage reporting
- Continue or supplement diversity and inclusion training University-wide, with a special focus on the Athletics Department, to advance empathy-building, racial sensitivity and cultural understanding, and
- Amplify the University’s policy statement against retaliation within the Athletic Department.