The NCAA put out a press release Thursday announcing it had adopted a new a sexual violence policy, complete with a press release and a fluffy writeup by the Associated Press. But the NCAA saying it’s news doesn’t make it news. The policy, as described by its own press release, is meaningless. All it does is reiterate things the federal government already requires the NCAA to do, as well as repeating promises it made in a resolution passed more than three years ago.
According to the NCAA press release, this is what universities must do now:
Coaches, college athletes and athletics administrators are required to complete education each year in sexual violence prevention ...
They already were required to do that.
An update passed a few years ago to the Clery Act, a federal law covering campus safety, specifically required all institutions to provide incoming students and new employees with“primary prevention and awareness programs” having to do with dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Institutions were already required to provide “ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns for students and employees.” This law—a real law, not a meaningless NCAA press release—already exists.
More from that press release:
As part of the new policy, leaders on each NCAA campus — the school president or chancellor, athletics director and Title IX coordinator — must attest annually that coaches, athletics administrators and student-athletes were educated in sexual violence prevention.
That’s just repeating the first part of the press release.
Three campus officials must certify that:
The school’s athletics department is knowledgeable about, integrated in, and compliant with institutional policies and processes regarding sexual violence prevention and proper adjudication and resolution of acts of sexual violence.
They were already required to do that too.
At no point did the federal government exempt athletics from following federal rules and guidelines already in place. In fact, the 2011 guidance letter from the U.S. Department of Education to universities specifically said athletes must not get special treatment, saying “the school must follow its standard procedures for resolving sexual violence complaints” involving athletes.
This is the final piece from the press release.
The school’s policies regarding sexual violence prevention and adjudication — plus the name and contact information for the campus Title IX coordinator — are readily available in the athletics department and are distributed to student-athletes.
Yes, they were already required to do that too. That same 2011 letter said schools should give all new students the following information as well as posting it widely across campus:
- what constitutes sexual harassment or violence
- what to do if a student has been the victim of sexual harassment or violence
- contact information for counseling and victim services on and off school grounds
- how to file a complaint with the school
- how to contact the school’s Title IX coordinator
The press release doesn’t mention punishment. Barrett Sallee at CBS Sports reported today that schools that don’t go along with this “will be known to the public.” But schools under investigation for possibly violating Title IX already are known the public, and that doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone’s attendance at football games or number of applications submitted.
And if that wasn’t enough, look back at what was promised in this NCAA resolution passed in 2014. Here is what was promised then:
The NCAA promised to do all this three years ago. (“This,” again, being “compliance with laws and rules already in place.”) If it meant nothing then, it means nothing now.