San Jose State University's Academic Senate adopted a five-paragraph resolution expressing concern about the school’s athletic administration in its final meeting of the academic year Monday.
As reported by The Mercury News of San Jose, the resolution passed 40-0 with two abstentions, and states that media reports have triggered concern “that there is a culture of retaliation, harassment, and bullying” in the athletics department run by Marie Tuite.
SJSU president Mary Papazian made her plea against the resolution during her regularly scheduled statement to the senators, asking them to withhold judgment until after an external Title IX investigation was complete. The investigation is looking into how former athletic trainer Scott Shaw was able to keep working with women athletes a decade after women swimmers leveled allegations of sexual abuse, The Mercury News reported.
“I trust that we all recognize that adopting a Senate resolution prior to the conclusion of a fair process is at odds with the core values of the academy,” she said, repeating past reassurances that the administration takes the allegations of retaliation very seriously.
The Academic Senate resolution calls for Papazian and her staff to implement measures to promote a climate to support anyone who reports abuse. Karthika Sasikumar, an associate professor of political science, said she and professors Julia Curry and Brandon White wrote the resolution to “give a voice to concerns that we have heard from our constituents. It is not an attempt to pre-judge anyone.”
According to The Mercury News, Anoop Kaur, the Associated Students’ director of Academic Affairs, called for university officials to apologize to swim coach Sage Hopkins, who has filed a whistleblower retaliation suit in Santa Clara County. Hopkins listened in on the meeting, which was conducted over video call.
The issue dates to 2009, when 17 women swimmers complained about improper touching by Shaw, who was promoted to director of sports medicine in 2008 and resigned last year after the allegations were first made public by USA Today.
A school investigation had concluded in 2010 that the uncomfortable touching was a result of Shaw’s use of “pressure point therapy,” which, the investigation concluded, was a “bona fide means of treating muscle injury.”
Though Shaw has not been arrested or charged with a crime, the allegations have attracted the attention of the FBI and attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. It also spurred notice of legal action from 10 women athletes and wrongful termination lawsuits from former athletic department employees caught up in the case.
The Academic Senate’s resolution will be sent to various bodies of the California State University system including the Board of Trustees, Castro and presidents of the 23 state schools.